Jianpu’s filing is the latest to raise questions over the veracity of fundraising claims by Chinese private companies, a flurry of which are now heading to market.
Peer-to-peer lender Ppdai’s fundraisings detailed in its filing also fall short of earlier disclosures, according to calculations by Crunchbase, which collates its data from a variety of mostly publicly available channels, including US Securities and Exchange Commission documents.
The disparity in numbers, first reported in China Money Network, stands to undermine confidence in China’s unicorns — tech companies valued at more than $1bn — and prompt greater scrutiny of filings, most of which are lodged with the SEC.
这些数字上的出入最早是由中国金融投资网(China Money Network)报道出来的。它很可能会削弱外界对中国“独角兽”企业的信心，并使这些企业的申报文件(多寄存在美国证交会)受到更严格审视。
Investors have already balked at Qudian, the online lender backed by Alibaba’s payments affiliate Ant Financial. They sent its shares down some 20 per cent last week, an expression of suspicions Qudian had inaccurately described its business operations before its blockbuster $900m IPO on the New York Stock Exchange the week before.
Qudian’s initial public offering prospectus put its bad-loan ratio at 0.5 per cent — an unusually low but not impossible figure, especially if was selling off bad debt to third parties, which is a common practice among online lenders.
However, the actual bad-loan rate may be higher, given Chinese local media reports citing an interview with Qudian chief executive Luo Min that suggested the company had written off delinquent loans as charity payments to borrowers.
“For our bad debts, we will not do anything to collect the debt. If you do not return the money, then never mind,” said Mr Luo. “We will gift it to you as charity.”
Qudian also states in its prospectus that about “90.8 per cent of active borrowers are between 18 and 35 years of age”, a description that local media criticised as a group most likely to include students. China banned online student loans in June after a spree of financial scams, including porn-for-payment schemes, targeted university students.
Qudian’s prospectus did not advertise a clear pre-IPO fundraising figure. However, Crunchbase says the company raised about $873m from a number of investors before it went public.
Chinese unicorns are fast catching up with their US peers in terms of value. According to CBInsights, which ranks and tracks the unicorn universe, three of the four biggest unicorns are Chinese. Altogether, Chinese unicorns comprise 41 per cent of the total global pie by value, not far below the 46 per cent for the US, according to Boston Consulting Group.
在估值方面，中国“独角兽”们正在飞快赶超美国同行。对“独角兽”企业进行排名和追踪的CBInsights表示，4家最大的“独角兽”中，有3家来自中国。波士顿咨询集团(Boston Consulting Group)表示，按估值衡量，中国“独角兽”合计占全球“独角兽”的41%，与美国46%的份额差距不大。
Ppdai, the online peer-to-peer lending platform, raised a total of $70.2m in five funding rounds, according to the Crunchbase database. But in its IPO filing it says it has raised $61.7m.
Jianpu, which operates the Rong360 platform, claimed to have raised four rounds of funding worth a total $258m, according to Crunchbase. That compares with $186m detailed in its IPO filing. CBInsights last week dropped Rong360 from its unicorns list.
Ppdai and Rong360 declined to comment. Qudian did not respond several requests for comment.
Additional reporting by Don Weinland 唐•温兰(Don Weinland)补充报道