The U.S. Treasury is to place Chinese artificial intelligence and biometrics firm SenseTime on the “Chinese military-industrial complex companies” blacklist on Friday, just in time for the firm pricing its Hong Kong IPO, reports the Financial Times.
The delayed launch was initially approved for up to US$2 billion but has subsequently been scaled back to $767 million. The share price range is HK$3.85 to $3.99 (US$0.49 to $0.51), the upper price would give the company a valuation of $17 billion. The price is due to be set on Friday 10 December, the day the company will now be added to the blacklist, with the first day of trading set for Friday, December 17.
Washington says SenseTime enables human rights abuses against Uyghurs in the Xinjiang region of China, according to the report. The addition to the list would prevent Americans from investing in the company. U.S. private equity firm Silver Lake has a 3 percent stake in the company and has agreed to lock up some of its shares for six months after the IPO.
SenseTime was placed on the U.S. Commerce Department blacklist – or entity list – in 2019 which the report states has discouraged western banks from being involved in the IPO. HSBC is the only western bank involved.
The firm, which continues to post losses, plans to use the funding raised to invest in further biometrics and AI development.