Chinese online gaming firm Changyou.com Ltd priced its $120 million Nasdaq IPO at the top of its indicated range on healthy investor demand -- a rare sign of life in a long-moribund market for new issuance.
Changyou.com, which is being spun off by mainland Internet portal Sohu.com, is the first company to make an initial public offering on Nasdaq since November and is set to begin trading later on Thursday under the symbol CYOU.
Changyou.com developed the popular multi-player online role-playing game Tian Long Ba Bu and also operates the game Blade Online under license.
The IPO attracted orders for 15 times the number of shares on offer, according to a person familiar with the situation. More than 250 different investors bought shares, another source said, in an offering that was helped by the March market rally.
The sources asked not to be identified as they were not authorized to talk to media.
Changyou.com said it priced 7.5 million American Depositary Shares at $16 each -- the top of a $14-$16 range -- in a deal handled by Credit Suisse and Merrill Lynch.
Half of the shares being sold are new and half are existing shares that were sold by Sohu.com. Sohu.com, which went public on Nasdaq in 2000 during a wave of Chinese Internet IPOs, sees its stake in Changyou.com reduced to 70.7 percent from 84.2 percent.
The share sale represented 14.2 pct of enlarged share capital and valued the company at $846 million.
The underwriters have the option to purchase an additional 1.125 million ADSs, representing 2.25 million shares.
The global IPO market has all-but evaporated this year.
Just 50 companies -- including only one from the United States -- raised a combined $1.37 billion in global IPOs in the first quarter, marking a nearly 97 percent drop from the $39.9 billion raised from 178 listings globally in the first quarter of 2008, according to Thomson Reuters data.
Another upcoming listing is also seeing strong investor demand.
Silver Base Group, which distributes products made by Chinese liquor maker Wuliangye Yibin, is raising up to $134 million in a Hong Kong listing that sources familiar with the matter said is comfortably covered.
Changyou.com's listing is the first on Nasdaq by a Chinese company since online education and test preparation firm ATA Inc raised $46.3 million in January 2008.
(Additional reporting by Phil Wahba in New York and Ajay Kamalakaran in Bangalore; Editing by Lincoln Feast)