Transsion, Chinese Giant in African Smartphone Market, Goes Public in Shanghai
COVID-19 and China
itel goes wild in Africa, so do TECNO and Infinix. Image credit: Transsion official website

Shenzhen-based mobile phone developer Transsion (传音控股, 688036:SH) is about to start trading its newly listed stock on the Shanghai bourse’s Star Market. The initial public offering will possibly bring the company more than CNY 2.81 billion (USD 400 million).

During the online IPO roadshow, which took place on September 18, the firm received and answered 80 questions from potential investors. According to the firm’s executives, in the first half of this year Transsion spent over CNY 350 million (USD 49.38 million), or 3.32% of its current revenue, on research and development.

The phone maker’s top managers don’t seem to be frightened by an influx of Chinese compatriot competitors in the African market. They believe that Transsion possesses significant advantages over more diversified and less localized Xiaomi (1810:HK) and the like. In fact, the company pays a great deal of attention to local customs and characteristics when entering new markets.

For one, in India it is now famous for producing smartphones with oil-resistant fingerprint recognition: local people traditionally eat with their hands. In Africa, Transsion markets four-SIM-card phones: a low real disposable income and relatively expensive mobile services make customers want to switch often between various operators to cut their costs.

At the moment, Transsion has a factory in Ethiopia, R&D centers in Nigeria and Kenya as well as a huge network of retail shops across the continent.

So-called ‘south-south FDI’ (foreign direct investment between developing countries) has been rising sharply as many new transnational corporations have recently emerged from actively growing regions such as Southeast Asia and Latin America. Regional integration, state-backed transcontinental projects such as the Belt and Road Initiative and continuous technological improvement are also having a positive effect on this phenomenon.

Founded in 2013, Transsion is arguably among the most interesting of the latest IPO candidates. With a revenue of over CNY 22.65 billion (USD 3.2 billion) in 2018, it is the third company on the list of applicants by this indicator, trailing only the state-backed transportation giant CRSC (China Railway Signal & Communication, 688009:SH) and solar energy giant Trina Solar (A19173:SH).

According to EqualOcean’s latest report, Transsion ranks seventh in the list of applicants holding the largest number of patents on the Star board. This is the 34th firm that has passed through the whole registration process in the fresh marketplace. Meanwhile, the total number of IPOs on the board is creeping up to the 'fifty in 2019' bar set by some industry analysts.

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