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Hong Kong Startup News Roundup - 13 September 2021


TikTok parent ByteDance is reportedly in talks for $4 billion worth of loans as IPO faces regulatory headwinds

Tik Tok's parent company ByteDance is in talks with banks to borrow about $4 billion to refinance debt and fund an overseas expansion, according to a report from The Information. The owner of the popular social-media platform is taking advantage of low interest rates and will use the loans to repay debt and replenish funds for daily operations, per Bloomberg, which cited a person familiar with the matter who requested anonymity because the negotiations are private.

The bank loans come as a regulatory crackdown on China's technology sector casts doubt over the timing of ByteDance's hotly anticipated IPO.In August, it was reported that ByteDance is targeting an IPO in Hong Kong in either he fourth quarter of 2021 or early 2022. The company is reportedly working with authorities to satisfy data security issues after after Chinese regulators voiced concerns about the issue earlier this summer.


A Chinese EV startup wants to build a ridable robot unicorn for kids

This robot unicorn is just about as mythical as the 'real' thing, too. Xpeng hasn't revealed when it expects to deliver its robotic horse-with-a-horn, let alone pricing or availability. It might not cost as much as a $75,000 Spot, but we'd expect something this sophisticated to cost more than the $2,900 Aibo from 2019.

To some extent, profit is beside the point. Xpeng chief He Xiaopeng said the unicorn was part of a broader move into the robotics space by taking advantage of the company's existing technology. Think of this as a first step. What Xpeng learns from its unicorn could lead to more sophisticated (and hopefully adult-oriented) robots you're more likely to buy.


HKSTP Invites the World’s Brightest Innovators to Join Hong Kong’s First Hybrid Elevator Pitch Competition 2021

Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP) has formally kickoff the Elevator Pitch Competition 2021 (EPiC 2021) by inviting applications from tech ventures in Hong Kong around the world. Taking place from 5 to 12 November, 2021, participating entrepreneurs can join their peers, investors and innovation eco-system leaders in an international week-long fest of pitching, investment and business matching as well as learning from icons in the startup landscape.

The international week-long festival of investment and innovation will focus on high-potential ideas in FinTech, Health Technology, Smart City, and the emerging area of Green Tech & Construction Tech. Robert Luo, CEO and Co-founder of 2020 champion winner MiTerro from the US, said: “Winning EPiC was a validation of our business and vision. We not only met investors but also other entrepreneurs who are finding innovative solutions to some of the world’s biggest problems.”

German-Chinese startup Agile Robots raises $220 million from investors

German-Chinese startup Agile Robots said on Thursday that it had raised $220 million from investors led by the SoftBank Vision Fund 2 and would invest the proceeds in expanding its production and sales operations. The investment round valued Agile Robots, which has dual headquarters in Munich and Beijing, at more than $1 billion - adding it to the growing ranks of technology startups with so-called "unicorn" status.

Founded in 2018, Agile Robots provides both software and hardware - including a five-fingered robot than can serve as a 'smart assistant' in settings such as assembling smartphones or providing health treatment.


PayPal snaps up Japanese buy-now-pay-later unicorn for $2.7 billion

PayPal is buying Japanese startup Paidy, marking the latest major tie-up in the fast-growing space of buy now, pay later companies. The US giant announced the mostly cash deal Tuesday night, which is worth 300 billion Japanese yen (about $2.7 billion).  In a statement, PayPal (PYPL) said that the acquisition was to extend its "capabilities, distribution and relevance in the domestic payments market in Japan, the third largest e-commerce market in the world."

The move comes just weeks after another big fintech firm, Square (SQ), said it would fork over $29 billion for Afterpay, the Australian company that also allows customers to pay for their purchases in installments. The acquisition is Square's largest ever.

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