US blacklists Chinese company SenseTime before listing for $767 million: FT

SenseTime artificial intelligence (AI) startup office in Hong Kong
The logo of artificial intelligence (AI) startup SenseTime is seen at its office in Hong Kong, China August 18, 2021. Photo taken August 18, 2021. REUTERS / Tyrone Siu

December 9, 2021

(Reuters) – The United States will put Chinese artificial intelligence firm SenseTime on an investment blacklist on Friday, the Financial Times reported, citing people familiar with the decision, as the company is completing all IPOs in Hong Kong.

According to two sources with direct knowledge of the matter, the startup was unaware that it might be blacklisted in the US.

Sources said a call was conducted late Thursday Hong Kong time between the company and advisors to discuss the impact of the initial public offering (IPO) ban. , sources said, declined to be identified as information that has not been made public.

SenseTime told Reuters it had no immediate comment on the blacklisting report and did not respond to questions about the future of the IPO.

The company had planned to sell 1.5 billion shares in a price range of HK$3.85 to US$3.99 per share during the IPO. According to company filings, the company will release a final price and share allocation to institutional investors on Friday.

The Financial Times reported that the US Treasury Department will classify SenseTime as a “Chinese military-industrial joint venture”.

In June, US President Joe Biden signed an executive order banning Americans from investing in the companies on the list.

If added to the blacklist, US investors will not be able to buy into the IPO.

Some US investors have placed bids on shares during the IPO, and the implication of the ban on their orders is unclear, a source with direct knowledge of the matter added.

The FT said the action against SenseTime would be part of a package of sanctions against a number of countries on Human Rights Day.

The United States accuses SenseTime of being among Chinese companies playing a role in human rights abuses against Muslim minorities in China, a charge Beijing denies.

On Wednesday, the US House of Representatives passed legislation banning imports from China’s Xinjiang region due to concerns about forced labor.

SenseTime was blacklisted by the US Department of Commerce in 2019, and the company said at the time that it strongly opposes US trade restrictions and will work with relevant authorities. to resolve the situation.

(Reporting by Scott Murdoch in Hong Kong and Yingzhi Yang in Beijing. Additional reporting by Sonia Cheema and Brenda Goh in Shanghai; Editing by Devika Syamnath, Jason Neely and Kim Coghill) US blacklists Chinese company SenseTime before listing for $767 million: FT

Bobby Allyn

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