Leading Chinese lidar firm Hesai Technology submitted a prospectus on January 17 in preparation for its listing on the Nasdaq under stock code “HSAI.” According to market rumors, it plans to raise $150 million through this transaction, and the firm’s valuation may reach $3 billion.
Founded in Shanghai in 2014, Hesai is a leading enterprise in automatic driving and advanced assisted driving (ADAS) lidar. Lidar is widely used in the field of driverless cars and robots, and is known as the “eye” of robots. It is an active measuring device that measures the accurate distance between objects and sensors by emitting laser signals.
Hesai has a strong large-scale production capacity, and its “Maxwell” manufacturing center with an annual production capacity of one million units will be fully put into production in 2023. In December 2022, it announced that its cumulative delivery of lidar had reached a milestone of 100,000 units.
In January, 2023, Hesai obtained orders from Rising Auto, a new energy vehicle brand owned by SAIC. Its brand-new model will be equipped with ultra HD lidar AT128. Since mass production and delivery began in 2022, many models equipped with AT128 have been launched. At present, the monthly delivery of AT128 has exceeded 20,000 units.
The firm’s revenue is growing rapidly. Its revenues in 2019, 2020 and 2021 were 348 million yuan ($51.3 million), 416 million yuan and 720 million yuan respectively, while net losses were 120 million yuan, 107 million yuan and 245 million yuan. Its revenue in the first nine months of 2022 was 793 million yuan, an increase of 72.77% from 459 million yuan in the same period in 2021, while net losses were 165 million yuan, narrowing from 175 million yuan in the same period in 2021.
Hesai has invested significant funds in the research and development of lidar technology. In 2019, 2020 and 2021, the R&D expenses of Hesai were 149.8 million, 229.7 million and 368.4 million respectively, accounting for 43.0%, 55.3% and 51.1% of its net revenue.
The three co-founders of Hesai are Li Yifan, Sun Kai and Xiang Shaoqing, who have served as directors and senior managers of the company since its establishment. Xie Dongying, the former CFO of NIO, has joined Hesai as CFO to handle the IPO. Xie once served as CFO and president of New Oriental Education Technology, promoting a US listing for the education company.
Since the second half of 2022, stagnated listings of Chinese firms in the US have ended after one and a half years. In December, the American Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) released a report, saying that it was the first time in history to complete the review of the manuscripts of Chinese stocks, which meant that the delisting risk for Chinese stocks was basically concluded.