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Intel-Backed Horizon Robotics Weighs $1 Billion U.S. IPO

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(Bloomberg) -- Chinese artificial intelligence-chip startup Horizon Robotics Inc. is considering a U.S. initial public offering which could raise as much as $1 billion, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The Beijing-based company, which is backed by investors including Intel Capital, Hillhouse Capital and Jack Ma’s Yunfeng Capital, is working with advisers on preparations for the share sale, the people said. A listing could happen as soon as the end of this year, they said, asking not to be identified as the information is private.

Details of Horizon Robotics’ IPO plans including venue and timing are preliminary as deliberations are ongoing, the people said. A representative for the company declined to comment.

Horizon Robotics is part of a burgeoning market for developers of advanced automotive technologies such as self-driving, as China looks to become a world leader in artificial intelligence chips and software in general. U.S. efforts to make it harder for Chinese companies to access electronic components and know-how have fueled a push toward high-tech independence.

Founded in 2015, Horizon Robotics makes AI chips for autonomous vehicles and machines. It also makes software customized to these chips, which can be installed in everything from vehicles to smart speakers. Its partners include Volkswagen AG’s Audi, BYD Co., SAIC Motor Corp. and Robert Bosch GmbH, according to its website.

Earlier this year Horizon Robotics raised $400 million in a funding round from investors including Yunfeng Capital, Contemporary Amperex Technology Co., Baillie Gifford and CITIC Private Equity Funds.

Horizon Robotics aimed to list on Shanghai’s Nasdaq-style STAR board within three years, founder and Chief Executive Officer Yu Kai said in 2019 on the sidelines of the IC China conference. In April, China’s securities regulator tightened rules for listing on the tech-focused board, updating criteria for evaluation such as research and development skills, patents, revenue growth rate and capacity to innovate. The revamp led to a surge in companies pulling their IPOs, while others have switched to planning listings on other exchanges such as Hong Kong or New York.

Medical devices company Neusoft Medical Systems Co. and medical imaging and radiotherapy equipment maker Shanghai United Imaging Healthcare Co. are among the firms that are now weighing Hong Kong listings after earlier seeking to go public on the STAR board, Bloomberg News has reported.

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