Luckin Coffee, a Chinese start-up that is looking to challenge Starbucks in one of its key markets, is going public Friday in one of the bigger U.S. IPOs by a Chinese firm this year so far. In fact, the IPO by the coffee chain has been hotly awaited and also debated. The company said it expects to raise US$500 million.
While many observers are skeptical of the company that is running a massive deficit in a seemingly ludicrous attempt to catch up to Starbucks overnight, others are touting the operation’s innovative approach to delivery, pre-order and digitalization that is cutting costs. Since Luckin is barely 18 months old but already opened 2,000 stores, it’s certainly hard to know what executives have brewing for the future as well as how - and when - they are planning to turn a profit.
While 2019 has seen a couple of Chinese IPOs on Wall Street already, 2018 was a record year for companies from China and Hong Kong to go public on the NYSE. With US$8.9 billion raised, 2018 brought the highest Wall Street IPO proceeds for Chinese companies so far, except for the year 2014, when e-commerce giant Alibaba went public in the U.S. and raised 90 percent (US$21.8 billion) of yearly proceeds all by itself. Only the year 2010 saw more Chinese companies’ IPOs on Wall Street, but back then, only a meager US$3.9 billion were raised, according to Renaissance Capital.