ByteDance denies it will go public in Hong Kong next quarter

Catherine Shu
FUZHOU, CHINA - MAY 05: People visit the ByteDance stand during the 2nd Digital China Summit & Exhibition at Fuzhou Strait International Conference & Exhibition Center on May 5, 2019 in Fuzhou, Fujian Province of China. The 2nd Digital China Summit with the theme of 'IT application: new growth drivers for new developments and achievements' will be held on May 6-8 in Fuzhou. (Photo by Visual China Group via Getty Images/Visual China Group via Getty Images)

ByteDance has responded to a report in the Financial Times that said the Chinese internet startup plans to go public in Hong Kong as early as the first quarter of next year. "There is absolutely zero truth to the rumors that we plan to list in Hong Kong in Q1," said a spokesperson for the company, the owner of TikTok.

The Financial Times reported that ByteDance, which was founded in 2012 and is backed by investors including SoftBank, is preparing for a public listing by retaining law firm K&L Gates and hiring a chief legal officer and former U.S. officials to help address concerns by U.S. lawmakers that TikTok can pose “national security risks,” such as being compelled to turn over data from American users to Chinese authorities.

Speculation that ByteDance is gearing up for an IPO started last year when it closed a $3 billion funding round that put its valuation between $75 billion to $78 billion, making it the world's most valuable startup.

ByteDance’s apps also include Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, news app Toutiao and TopBuzz, a news aggregation app for the U.S. market that the Financial Times reports it is planning to sell as it prepares for an IPO.

In September, Reuters reported that ByteDance had made between $7 billion and $8.4 billion in revenue for the first half of the year and had posted a profit in June.