June 11, 2020 / 10:42 AM / 25 days ago

Nasdaq-listed 360 Finance may kick off HK listing end-2020 - sources

BEIJING, June 11 (Reuters) - Nasdaq-listed 360 Finance Inc may kick off its Hong Kong listing process as soon as December, two sources familiar with the matter said, as U.S.-listed Chinese firms pursue dual listings amid uncertain Sino-U.S. relations.

The online-lending platform of billionaire Zhou Hongyi has held intensive internal talks on its dual listing plan, and will speed up preparations once it has met the listing requirements of the Hong Kong stock exchange, one of the sources said.

A firm has to have had its first listing for at least two years before seeking a dual listing in Hong Kong. 360 Finance made its debut in Nasdaq in December 2018.

360 Finance did not reply a Reuters request for comment.

If the plan goes ahead, 360 Finance will follow Chinese firms including JD.com and Netease in launching a second listing in Hong Kong amid rising tensions between Beijing and Washington.

U.S. regulators are considering measures to improve scrutiny of U.S.-listed Chinese firms, while Hong Kong has altered its listing rules to welcome more tech companies and biotech firms to its market.

"No matter what changes in capital markets in the U.S. and China, a healthy and technology-driven company will eventually be recognized by investors anywhere," Liu Wei, a senior vice president at affiliate 360 Group, told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday.

"As long as its business makes tremendous progress and shows good tenacity amid risks."

Last week, 360 Finance said 360 Group had acquired a 30% stake in Tianjin-based Kincheng Bank.

The deal will allow Kincheng Bank to tap 360 Finance's core client base of white-collar workers, expanding further into China's lucrative digital lending market, Liu said.

Kincheng Bank can grow into a lender with total assets of nearly 100 billion yuan ($14.15 billion), 10 times its current size, if the business goes well, said Liu.

$1 = 7.0647 Chinese yuan renminbi Reporting by Cheng Leng, Zhang Yan and Ryan Woo; Editing by Mark Potter

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