17 Feb 2023

Latham and Skadden called in for Hesai’s Nasdaq debut

Largest IPO for Chinese company since 2021 heralds expected comeback for Chinese US listings in 2023

Intapp intends to list its common stock on the Nasdaq Global Market under the ticker symbol “INTA” Shutterstock

Latham & Watkins and Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom are among the law firms to be called in for Hesai’s Nasdaq debut, the largest US listing by a Chinese company since 2021. 

The Shanghai-based company, which makes sensing technology critical for autonomous driving, raised $190m from its public offering earlier this month. 

A Skadden team led by Shanghai-based corporate partner Yuting Wu has advised Hesai on US federal securities and New York State law, while Maples and Calder has advised on Cayman Islands law and Commerce & Finance Law Offices on PRC law. Wu was supported by Hong Kong-based counsel Yilin Xu and associates Si Shen and Charles Shi.

Meantime, Latham & Watkins has advised the underwriters – Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley Asia, Credit Suisse Securities and Huatai Securities – on US federal securities and New York State law, with Fangda Partners advising on mainland China law. 

The Latham team was led by Hong Kong corporate partners Allen Wang and Dominik Sklenar, with Beijing counsel Wei Wei and Shanghai associate Jasmine Hu.

The Fangda team was led by corporate partners Jeffrey Ding, Mengjie Wang and Brian Liu. Data compliance partner Gil Zhang also supported this transaction. 

Hesai’s IPO is the the largest for a Chinese company in the US since DiDi’s in June in 2021. The ride-sharing giant raised $4.4bn but saw its stock nosedive days later following a data security scandal, which led to probes from US and Chinese authorities and its stock eventually being delisted in the US last year. 

Hesitancy following the fallout from DiDi combined with simmering political tensions between the US and China, the introduction of data security rules on both sides and high inflation led to a sharp downturn in Chinese companies listing in the US last year. 

Hesai’s debut, however, heralds an expected uptick in listings, as China drastically eases its pandemic restrictions and the country reaches an agreement with the US that allows its accounting watchdog to inspect firms in China for the first time. 

Drew Bernstein, co-chairman of audit firm Marcum Asia CPAs, told CNBC last week his firm was working with around 50 mainly China-based companies on potential IPOs, “probably the strongest pipeline our firm has had in its history”.

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