HONG KONG, Jan 25 (Reuters) - Chinese live-video streaming start-up Kuaishou, backed by Tencent, is nearing the close of a $1 billion funding round led by the tech giant and plans to list as soon as this year, three people familiar with the matter said.
The latest funding round values Kuaishou at about $18 billion and has attracted venture capital firm Sequoia Capital China, among other investors, the people said.
The fundraising, which is expected to close in the coming weeks, comes as Kuaishou is considering an initial public offering (IPO) as soon as the second half of this year, according to one of the people. It prefers to list in Hong Kong, the person said, adding the IPO plan has not been finalized.
The fundraising by seven-year-old Kuaishou, meaning "fast hand" in Chinese, comes as live streaming in China has seen rapid growth, attracting a rush of investment led by tech heavyweights Tencent, Alibaba Group Holding and Baidu Inc. They hope live streaming can boost their existing offerings in e-commerce, social networking and gaming.
Kuaishou declined to comment. Tencent and Sequoia China did not immediately respond to requests for comments. The sources declined to be named as the information was confidential. ($1 = 6.3340 Chinese yuan renminbi) (Reporting by Julie Zhu and Kane Wu in HONG KONG; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)