ZTO Express of China Has Largest U.S. I.P.O. This Year
The latest company to offer American investors a piece of China’s internet boom has risen with the help of thousands of couriers on electric carts who speed garments, lipsticks and electronic devices to customers’ homes.
The company, ZTO Express, is one of a host of delivery companies that have emerged in China to ferry packages from merchant to consumer to propel the country’s vast e-commerce revolution. China is now the world’s largest delivery market; nearly 21 billion packages were sent last year, roughly 70 percent originating from online transactions, according to the market research firm iResearch.
That concept enabled ZTO to raise a greater-than-expected $1.4 billion in an initial public offering of stock on Thursday, the largest I.P.O. in the United States this year, according to Dealogic, a deal information provider. But by midafternoon in New York, its shares on the e New York Stock Exchange t dropped 12 percent, a concerning signal for new listings, which have been challenged this year.
这个概念使中通能够在周四的首次公开募股中筹集到了高于预期的14亿美元（约合95亿元人民币）。交易信息供应商Dealogic的数据显示，这是美国今年规模最大的IPO。但到纽约时间下午3点，中通在纽约证券交易所(New York Stock Exchange)的股价下跌12%。对今年处境艰难的新上市企业来说，这是一个令人担心的信号。
The offering’s size eclipsed the $1.3 billion that the Japanese messaging company Line raised in July. That also makes it the largest American debut by a Chinese company since the $25 billion stock sale in 2014 by the Alibaba Group, the Chinese e-commerce giant that has underpinned the rise of companies like ZTO.
ZTO is one of four Chinese delivery companies that ferry a bit more than half of all packages in China. The companies, known as the Tongda Operators, share similar names, business models and origins, and all of the founders hail from Tonglu County, about 50 miles south of Alibaba’s headquarters in Hangzhou, in the eastern province of Zhejiang. Proximity to Alibaba has been a boon for business; Alibaba’s online shops accounted for about 77 percent of ZTO’s business in 2015, according to the company’s I.P.O. prospectus.
“To Xinjiang, Beijing, anywhere in China, all the Tongda Operators are about the same price,” said Liu Song, who runs the Sweet Lisa Flagship Store, which sells women’s apparel on Alibaba’s Tmall online shopping platform. From China’s southern city of Guangzhou, Mr. Liu ships about 3,000 dresses, blouses and skirts each month, for roughly 53 cents a parcel. In 2011, he paid $1.20 a parcel to ship to Beijing.
“Every year the price is going down,” Mr. Liu said. “I don’t think it can go down any more.”
Though ZTO depends heavily on the legions of delivery people who zip around Chinese cities delivering makeup, clothes and gadgets, it doesn’t employ them. The Tongda Operators run only the sorting and long-haul transportation network, leaving last-mile delivery — traditionally the most costly link in the chain — to partners who ferry packages from hubs to homes.
That has helped ZTO maintain profit margins as prices charged to customers decline. ZTO earned a net income of $115 million on revenue of $639 million in the first six months of this year.
“As the market cost leader, we are not afraid of a price war,” said James Guo, ZTO’s chief financial officer, while also noting that the decline in parcel weight and the introduction of digital waybills explained some of the falling prices. “In the case of the price war, we can actually benefit from that and gain market share.”
Almost anyone can open a delivery outlet by paying a fee and signing a contract with ZTO or one of its partners. Then come logos, three-wheeled carts and delivery personnel to start carrying packages. These partners set the prices charged to senders and are the ones being squeezed by a price war.
Though the Tongda Operators are the biggest, China’s delivery market is fragmented and cutthroat. It has an estimated 8,000 companies, according to 2015 figures from the China E-Commerce Research Center. No single courier holds more than 15 percent market share by volume, according to iResearch. Deutsche Post DHL pulled out of the domestic delivery market entirely in 2011; FedEx and UPS have a tiny share.
尽管“三通一达”是规模最大的，但中国的快递市场分散，竞争激烈。从中国电子商务研究中心2015年的数据来看，中国估计有8000家快递公司。iResearch的数据显示，从货物量来看没有哪家快递公司的市场份额超过15%。2011年，德国邮政敦豪(Deutsche Post DHL)彻底退出中国国内快递市场，联邦快递(FedEx)和UPS的市场份额非常小。
ZTO’s business model is particular to China, with its densely populated cities and its online shopping boom. It is a business model probably unsuited for many other countries, so the bet for investors is on growth in China’s e-commerce market and eventual consolidation in the delivery space.
An American initial public offering like ZTO’s is unusual among China’s express delivery companies. ZTO’s immediate peers — YTO Express, STO Express and Yunda Express, as well as the premium competitor SF Express — are going public in mainland China using what are called reverse mergers, in which the company pours its operations into an existing company that has publicly traded shares.
ZTO said on Thursday that it would sell more than 72 million shares at $19.50 each, though it said its underwriters had a 30-day option to buy an additional 10.8 million. The offering was led by Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, China Renaissance, Citigroup, Credit Suisse and J. P. Morgan.
中通周四表示，将以每股19.50美元的价格出售7200万股，不过该公司称承销商有权在30天内再购买1080万股。这次公开发行由摩根士丹利(Morgan Stanley)、高盛(Goldman Sachs)、华兴资本、花旗集团(Citigroup)、瑞士信贷(Credit Suisse)和摩根大通(J. P. Morgan)牵头经办。