Luckin Coffee Inc. (LK) priced its planned IPO at the higher end of its target range, the company said Friday. setting up a debut on the Nasdaq that will value the China-based rival to Starbucks (SBUX - Get Report) at more than $4.2 billion.
Luckin sold 33 million American Depository Shares at a price of $17 each, the company said, tapping the upper end of the $15 to $17 range the group's underwriters had targeted in the weeks prior to today's listing on the Nasdaq. The IPO will raise around $571 million for Luckin, the company said, and value the Beijing-based upstart at just over $4.2 billion.
Founded in 2017 by its current CEO, Qian Zhiya, Luckin already has around 2,300 coffee outlets in China, with plans for another 2,500 by the end of the year, as it goes head-to-head with Starbucks in the world's biggest coffee market. Luckin, in fact, estimates consumption will rise to 15.5 billion cups by 2023, nearly 80% higher than last year's record levels.
Starbucks has said it plans to expand its store footprint in the world's second-largest economy by 6,000 stores over the next four years, nearly double it current total, and will open a so-called "virtual" store that utilizes both its own app and those of online e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding (BABA - Get Report) a tie-up CEO Kevin Johnson once described as "rocket fuel" for the group's growth strategy.
Luckin's bold ambitions have come at a cost, however: the chain has yet to turn a profit and warned investors it will remain in the red for the foreseeable future. Furthermore, the ongoing U.S.-China trade war is sapping consumer confidence in China, were economic growth is slowing and April retail sales grew at their weakest pace in 16 years.
Still, with financial backing from BlackRock (BLK - Get Report) and Singapore's powerful sovereign wealth fund, GIC, as well as Friday's bullishly-price IPO, Luckin may have enough firepower to weather both a domestic slowdown and international investor unease.
Credit Suisse, Morgan Stanley, China International Capital Corporation and Haitong acted as lead bookrunners on the deal, with KeyBanc Capital and Needham & Co. as co-managers.