Luckin Coffee Set for IPO

The Chinese challenger to Starbucks is going public soon after being in operation for only 19 months.
Luckin Coffee Set for IPO

Chinese coffee company Luckin Coffee is expected to go public on the NASDAQ. In its filing with regulators, the company said it planned to sell 30 million shares with an option for underwriters to take an additional allocation of 4.5 million shares.

At a price of $15 to $17, the company would raise up to $510 million — or $586.5 million if the full offering is bought — and have a valuation of around $4 billion, which is about 20 times its sales.

Luckin began operating in October 2017 and has yet to break even. For the year ended December 31, 2018, it reported a net loss of $241 million, but the company is reportedly being treated by investors as a tech company. It does not employ cashiers. Instead, customers pay by phone and pick up coffee at a Luckin location. It also offers a delivery service and guarantees delivery in 30 minutes.

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Luckin reported liabilities of only $169 million, $52 million of that in financial debt. Its largest obligations were leasing commitments.

In April, the company raised $150 million in Series B+ funding from a number of investors, including $125 million from a private equity fund managed by BlackRock. That funding round valued the company at $2.2 billion.

Luckin has risen to be the second largest coffee chain behind Starbucks in China with 2,370 locations, 90 million cups of coffee sold annually, and almost 17 million customers served. BlackRock also a 6.58% stake in Starbucks.

Even though Chinese consumers drink coffee at far lower rates than American coffee-drinkers, 6.2 cups per capita annually compared with 388.3 cups per capita annually in the United States, consumption is expected to grow rapidly in China in the next few years.

The company said it expected to use the proceeds from the offering to finance its store network expansion and grow its customer base.