Jan 22, 2021 - Economy & Business

Chinese e-cigarette maker RLX raises $1.4 billion in IPO

An illustration of someone blowing smoke in the shape of a money sign.

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

RLX Technology, a Chinese e-cigarette maker, raised $1.4 billion in its IPO after pricing above its anticipated range. The company's initial market value is around $18.6 billion, and it will trade on the NYSE (RLX).

Why it matters: It's a reminder that vaping continues to flourish, despite receding from the headlines as COVID-19 became a more immediate public health crisis. The IPO also comes as investors wait to see if President Biden will continue on the Trump administration's efforts to stem U.S. listings of Chinese companies.

Details: RLX priced at $12 per share, versus its $8–$10 plans, and reports $16 million of net income on $324 million in revenue for the first nine months of 2020. Backers include Sequoia Capital China, with a 4.9% pre-IPO stake.

Bottom line: "The vaping industry has boomed in China even as the country banned online sales of e-cigarettes just over a year ago .... China is the world's largest potential vaping market, with an estimated 286.7 million adult smokers in 2019, RLX said in its prospectus. But vaping products only have a 1.2% penetration rate, compared with 32.4% in the U.S." — Crystal Tse & Julia Fioretti, Bloomberg

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