Trip.com Group shares gain 4.5% in Hong Kong debut

Employees work at a network operating center of an online travel firm Ctrip.Com International Ltd at its headquarters in Shanghai
FILE PHOTO: Employees work at a network operating center of an online travel firm Ctrip.Com International Ltd at its headquarters in Shanghai, during a government-organized media tour, following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, China January 14, 2021. REUTERS/Aly Song

April 19, 2021

By Sophie Yu and Scott Murdoch

HONG KONG (Reuters) -Trip.com Group shares rose 4.5% from their issue price in their Hong Kong debut on Monday, as its chairman bet on a recovery in domestic travel in major countries this year but warned a pick up in international business would take longer.

The China-headquartered travel group – which also operates UK-based online search and booking websites Skyscanner and Travelfusion – had sold its Hong Kong shares at HK$268 ($34.49) apiece to raise $1.09 billion in the secondary listing.

Trip.com is already listed in the United States.

“On the whole, this year domestic travel in major countries will recover, and regional travel will recover early next year,” said James Liang, co-founder and executive chairman of Trip.com. “The entire international tourism will resume in a longer time.”

“Seeing from the overseas brands of ours, it is already happening,” Liang said as he forecast a recovery in domestic U.S. tourism in the second half of this year.

In China, tourism is improving as the country has recovered from the coronavirus, Liang told Reuters.

During the recent three-day Qingming festival, or tomb-sweeping holiday, Chinese travellers made 102 million trips, equivalent to 94.5% of the trips made over the holiday in 2019, official data shows.

TRIP.COM’S HONG KONG DEAL

Trip.com had flagged in its launch documents that its shares would not be priced above HK$333 each, which would have raised $1.35 billion.

But the indicated price for the stock fell in the wake of a 5.4% slide in Trip.com’s Nasdaq-listed shares during the session last week when the Hong Kong deal was being finalised.

The U.S.-listed stock has, however, gained more than 8% this year.

Trip.com’s Hong Kong shares were trading at HK$279.8 in the afternoon session, while the Hang Seng Index was up 0.8%.

The company is the 19th overseas-listed Chinese firm to launch a Hong Kong deal since Alibaba Group Holding began the trend in November 2019.

Five secondary listings in 2021 have raised $8.41 billion following on from $19.1 billion last year, Refinitiv data shows.

($1 = 7.7710 Hong Kong dollars)

(Reporting by Donny Kwok and Scott Murdoch in Hong Kong and Sophie Yu in Beijing; Editing by Himani Sarkar)