* IPO priced at $24/share, above $19-$22 marketing range
* Qudian backed by Alibaba, became profitable last year
* Firm would have market value of about $7.9 bln at IPO price (Changes sourcing on IPO pricing)
By Nikhil Subba and Diptendu Lahiri
Oct 18 (Reuters) - Chinese online micro-credit provider Qudian Inc said it raised about $900 million in an IPO that priced above expectations, underscoring robust U.S. investor demand for fast-growing Chinese companies.
The offering from Qudian represents the biggest-ever U.S. listing by a Chinese financial technology firm. It is also the most high-profile company to take part in a resurgence of U.S. listings by Asian firms this year.
Qudian, which is backed by Alibaba Group affiliate Ant Financial and became profitable last year, operates a website that allows college students and young white-collar workers to buy laptops, smartphones and other consumer electronics in monthly installments.
Its American depositary shares were priced at $24 each, above the marketed range of $19-$22, the company said in a statement on Wednesday. Qudian’s shares will make their market debut on the New York Stock Exchange later on Wednesday.
At the IPO price, Qudian would have a market value of about $7.9 billion.
Qudian sold 35.63 million new shares, while shareholders including Kunlun Group and board directors Li Du and Yi Cao sold 1.88 million existing shares.
The company said it plans to use the proceeds for marketing campaigns to sign up more borrowers, as well as on potential strategic acquisitions and general corporate purposes.
Founded over three years ago, the company provided $5.6 billion of credit in the first half of 2017 to 7 million active borrowers, according to its IPO prospectus.
Qudian’s net income jumped almost eight times to 973.7 million yuan ($144 million) in the six months ended June 30, while revenue rose near five-fold to 1.83 billion yuan.
It posted losses of 233.2 million yuan in 2015 and 40.8 million when it was launched in 2014.
U.S. exchanges are set to record their busiest year for IPOs from Asian firms since 2010 and may sustain the pace in 2018, as startups from Taiwan, Singapore and Vietnam join a flurry of Chinese firms that have already listed in the country.
Five companies, including Singaporean online games maker Sea Ltd, China’s oldest peer-to-peer (P2P) lender Ppdai Group and search company Sogou Inc, are currently pitching their plans for initial public offerings to investors, adding to the 10 Chinese firms that have listed so far this year in the United States.
Citigroup, China International Capital Corp Ltd, Credit Suisse, Morgan Stanley and UBS worked as joint bookrunners on the Qudian IPO. (Reporting by Roopal Verma, Nikhil Subba and Diptendu Lahiri in Bengaluru and Elzio Barreto in Hong Kong; Writing by Elzio Barreto; Editing by Ankur Banerjee and Edwina Gibbs)