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Property Website may list overseas

SOUFUN, China's top real estate Website, is eyeing an initial public offering next year in Hong Kong or the United States if the global economy recovers, Chairman Vincent Mo said yesterday.

He said SouFun would prefer to list in Chinese mainland, where its client base is concentrated, but the country's strict regulatory approval process stood in the way.

"Hong Kong and the United States are our two main choices, and the third is Chinese mainland," Mo said.

Australia's largest telephone firm Telstra Corp Ltd holds a 51-percent stake. Other shareholders include the US venture capital heavyweight IDG and Mo himself.

"If I have to give a timing, I think it will more probably be next year," said Mo, who is also SouFun's chief executive.

SouFun is aiming for profit growth of 50 percent this year, but Mo said this might prove a conservative target. "Everyone is cautious with their estimates this year because visibility is low," he said. "It could turn out better."

Profits grew 88 percent to more than US$50 million last year, the fourth consecutive year in which they have almost doubled.

The company gets 95 percent of its revenues from online property advertising, where its major rivals include Sina Corp and

SouFun has about 60 percent of the Chinese market, which will be worth between 1.5 billion yuan (US$219 million) and 1.8 billion yuan this year, Mo said.

Mo said the main purpose of its planned IPO was to improve corporate governance as the company is generating enough profit to fund continued organic growth.

SouFun, which covers 105 Chinese cities, offers online services, including research reports related to sales of residential property and rentals.



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