Behind the Scenes: China's 500.com IPO on NYSE

On the cobblestone streets in front of the New York Stock Exchange, executives and guests of 500.com gathered for an Opening Bell ceremony to celebrate the company’s newly minted $75.2 million IPO. At the same time but on the other side of the globe, employees at its Shenzhen headquarters were partying into the night, being entertained by a live broadcast of the bell ringing, fireworks, light show and a massive cake, while reporters in Beijing attended 500.com’s media conference.

A leading online sports lottery service provider in China, 500.com priced its IPO at $13 per American Depositary Share (1 ADS = 10 class A ordinary shares). The price topped the estimated $11-13 range. The first trade opened under the symbol WBAI at $20, a 53.85% pop over the IPO price. It closed trading Friday at $20.01. Sequoia Capital purchased shares totalling $15 million from a concurrent private placement.

The lead underwriter, Deutsche Bank, was joined by Piper Jaffray and Oppenheimer. The auditor was Ernst & Young Hua Ming, and legal counsel was Simpson Thacher & Bartlett.

According to its prospectus, citing an iResearch Report, 500.com had the largest market share of sports lottery products purchased in China during the six months ended June 30, 2013 and the second largest market share in 2012. The company also said it is one of two entities that have been approved by the Ministry of Finance to provide online lottery sales services on behalf of the China Sports Lottery Administration Center - the government authority that is in charge of the issuance and sale of sports lottery products in China.

During the breakfast ceremony at the NYSE, host Scott Cutler, EVP & Global Head of Listings, recognized 500.com’s team effort in reaching this milestone. "There's a saying that when you work hard, you get lucky . . . 500.com worked very hard," he said.

The company’s name originates from its brand, 500Wan, which means 5 million in Chinese and is the typical amount of top prizes of most lottery products in China.

The 500.com IPO came just three weeks after the IPO of another Chinese company, 58.com (NYSE: WUBA), a leading online marketplace in China.

On the day of 500.com’s “birthday” as a public company, another significant birthday was taking place: that of Madam Liu Yandong, Vice Premier of the People’s  Republic of China, who gave a speech at Carnegie Hall but not before being serenaded by a violin-led chorus of “Happy Birthday to You.”  A happy coincidence!