INTERNATIONAL NEWS - The medical arm of Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com soared 34 percent on its debut on the Hong Kong stock market Tuesday after raising HK$27 billion ($3.5 billion) in the biggest initial public offering in the financial hub this year.
The upward trend in early trading for JD Health International pointed to growing interest in investor demand for post-pandemic digital medical care in a year when China's and other national health services became increasingly stretched.
The health unit's share price hit HK$94.50 in the opening minutes of trading, well above the listing price of HK$70.58 that valued China's biggest online healthcare platform and retail pharmacy at as much as $28.5 billion.
JD Health CEO Xin Lijun described the listing as a "new starting point", adding that the firm aims to provide "convenient and accessible" medical services after a challenging year in the health sector.
The share sale comes after the health unit's parent raised around $4 billion in the city and on the back of a rise in demand for its services during the pandemic.
"2020 has been an extraordinary year for everyone" because of the pandemic, Xin said, and was a year in which "JD Health gained society's recognition and understanding" for its work.
As China's coronavirus outbreak peaked in early 2020, the subsidiary of JD.com offered free online consultations, attracting tens of thousands of patients a day and helping tide the wave of people who may have sought to attend a hospital.
Hong Kong has seen a spate of IPOs in 2020, delivering a shot in the arm for the city after a turbulent couple of years that have been blighted by sometimes-violent democracy protests, the coronavirus and fallout from China's new national security law.
JD.com's sale in June came around the same time as another tech firm, NetEase, raised $2.7 billion and followed Beijing-Shanghai High Speed Railway's $4.3 billion listing in January.
However, the share market was dealt a blow earlier this month when Ant Group, the financial arm of JD rival Alibaba, was forced to pull its world-record $35 billion listing under pressure from Chinese authorities.
But Tuesday's debut performance by JD Health showed Hong Kong remains an attractive location for listings.
JD Health's total revenue rose to 8.8 billion yuan ($1.34 billion) in the first half of 2020 from 5 billion yuan in the same period last year, it said in its prospectus.
Chinese tech companies are increasingly looking to move into digital healthcare after months of lockdowns caused by the coronavirus pandemic, which emerged in central China late last year.
The health arm of JD.com's rival Alibaba has more than doubled in valuation in Hong Kong during the pandemic.