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Chinese holographic AR firm WiMi IPOs, sees real profit in virtual future

The coronavirus lockdown turned WiMi’s IPO roadshow into an all-digital affair – although that may have done the augmented reality firm a favour; the Beijing-based AR specialist is now eyeing expansion into southeast Asia.

Augmented reality_780

Think of WiMi Hologram Cloud’s initial public offering as a sign of our unusual and rapidly changing times. When the Beijing-based holographic augmented reality (AR) specialist went public on the Nasdaq on April 1, raising $26 million, it caught the eye for a number of novel reasons.

For one thing, it marked the first US IPO since the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 to be a global pandemic on March 11. Coronavirus is ebbing in some countries and yet to peak in others but is certain to tip the world into outright recession this year.

For another, it turned out to be something of a damp squib for the founders of a company whose early investors include UOB Venture Management, an arm of Singapore’s United Overseas Bank. 

In New York, investors priced the sale of 4.8 million American depositary shares at the very bottom of the $5.50 to $7.50 range, valuing the firm at $325 million. Over the following two weeks, that valuation slipped further: at close of trading on April 15 the shares were trading at $5.22.

But that wasn’t the main bone of contention.

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