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Southeast Asia's Sea, formerly Garena, to raise upwards of $884M in US IPO

Jon Russell

Sea, the Singapore-based digital entertainment firm formerly known as Garena, is set to raise upwards of $884 million when it lists on the New York Stock Exchange Friday under 'SE'.

The company, which specializes in publishing games but also offers payment and e-commerce services, has priced its shares at $15 -- above the $12-$14 range it previously set out. Sea originally planned to raise $1 billion but it later lowered that figure. However, the IPO could pass the $1 billion mark if the firm's underwriters purchase their full allotment of shares, which totals a maximum $132 million.

The listing is a litmus test for Southeast Asia's growing technology space where exits are rare. With few major acquisitions taking place in the region, upwards of a dozen companies from Southeast Asia are considering following Sea down the path of going public in the U.S., TechCrunch understands, so this IPO will be watched with interest.

Already Tencent, Sea's largest outside shareholder, has already indicated that it plans to purchase at least $100 million in new stock.

Sea is best known for its Garena gaming business, which predominantly focuses on PC games but also includes mobile, and in recent years it has branched out into e-commerce with its Shopee service and payments with its AirPay business.

It has grown its revenue from $160.8 million in 2014 to $345.7 million in 2016, but losses during the period widened from $90.9 million to $225 million.

The company said those losses are predominantly down to Shopee, which it has been subsidizing in order to battle the likes of Alibaba-owned Lazada in Southeast Asia’s e-commerce space. The industry is tipped to grow from $5.5 billion in 2015 to $87.8 billion in 2025, according to a report co-authored by Google.

The Garena games portal is like Steam for PCs. It counts 40.1 million monthly users as of June 2017, with 12.9 million daily users spending an average of 2.3 hours per day on the service. Garena is Sea’s only revenue-generator since the company is still subsidizing Shopee and AirPlay is available in just three markets.