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China Self-Driving Startup WeRide Files for $500 Million US IPO, Sources Say

(Bloomberg) -- Chinese driverless technology startup Guangzhou WeRide Technology Co. has filed confidentially for an initial public offering in the US and is looking to raise as much as $500 million, according to people familiar with the situation.

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The Guangzhou-based startup is working with advisers on a potential listing that could take place as early as in the first half of this year, the people said, asked not to be identified discussing a private matter.

Chinese companies have only just resumed pursuing US IPOs in recent months, after Didi Global Inc.’s 2021 listing prompted a crackdown by Beijing on companies with sensitive data selling shares abroad. To address the issue, WeRide will outsource data collection to an entity that won’t be part of the planned US listing, the people said.

Deliberations are ongoing and details of the IPO including size and timing could change, the people said. A representative for WeRide didn’t respond to a request for comment.

WeRide was weighing IPO venues including the US and Hong Kong, Bloomberg News reported last year. The company was valued at about $4.4 billion in a March 2022 fundraising round.

China’s private companies in areas including semiconductors, AI and autonomous driving are poised to benefit from President Xi Jinping’s public backing of the private sector. Facing what Xi described as suppression by the US and other western countries, he urged companies to strengthen innovation and play a bigger role in establishing China’s technology independence.

Founded in 2017, WeRide develops autonomous driving technology and is testing the technology in over 25 cities around the world, its website shows. WeRide produces vehicles including robotaxis, mini buses, vans and street sweepers in addition to its autonomous driving software and hardware solutions. Its headquarters is in Guangzhou and it has operations in Chinese cities including Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen, as well as in San Francisco.

Backed by the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance and Guangzhou Automobile Group, WeRide also counts engineering company Bosch and private equity firm Carlyle Group as existing investors.

--With assistance from Gao Yuan.

(Updates with locations in seventh paragraph.)

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