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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

Go deeper

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Jan 29, 2021 - Economy & Business

Varsity Tutors to be valued at $1.7 billion in SPAC deal

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser / Axios

Nerdy, the parent company of online learning platform Varsity Tutors, announced on Friday that it will be acquired by a SPAC called TPG Pace Tech Opportunities at a valuation of $1.7 billion. Axios had previously reported on the deal talks.

Why it matters: This is the first tech SPAC deal affiliated with private equity giant TPG, and comes as more and more legacy investment firms are hopping on the blank check bandwagon.

Updated 8 mins ago - Sports

MLB headed for first lockout since '95 as deal expires

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred (L) and Major League Baseball Players Association executive director Tony Clark. Photo: Matt King/MLB via Getty Images

Major League Baseball's collective bargaining agreement expired at 11:59 p.m. ET Wednesday without a new deal in place.

Why it matters: With no CBA, the MLB is in a management lockout — the first work stoppage since a 1994-95 strike led to the cancelation of the World Series for the first time in 90 years.

Media giants back Bannon's bid to release Jan. 6 documents

Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon at the FBI Washington Field Office in Washington, DC., in November. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

A coalition of news outlets including the Washington Post is supporting Stephen Bannon's campaign for the release of documents related to his contempt of Congress charges, WashPost confirmed Wednesday.

Why it matters: WashPost, the New York Times, CNN, NBC, the Wall Street Journal's parent company and others filed a motion arguing that a proposed protective order seeking to prevent the documents from being released violates the First Amendment, per the Daily Mail, which first reported on the news.