424B4 1 d620103d424b4.htm 424(B)(4) 424(B)(4)
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Filed pursuant to Rule 424(b)(4)
Registration Statement No. 333-229094

7,500,000 American Depositary Shares

LOGO

Futu Holdings Limited

Representing 60,000,000 Class A Ordinary Shares

 

 

This is an initial public offering of 7,500,000 American depositary shares, or ADSs, by Futu Holdings Limited. Each ADS represents eight Class A ordinary shares, par value US$0.00001 per share.

Prior to this offering, there has been no public market for the ADSs or our shares. The ADSs have been approved for listing on the Nasdaq Global Market under the symbol “FHL.”

We are an “emerging growth company” under applicable U.S. federal securities laws and are eligible for reduced public company reporting requirements.

See “Risk Factors” beginning on page 18 for factors you should consider before investing in the ADSs.

 

 

PRICE US$12.00 PER ADS

 

 

Neither the United States Securities and Exchange Commission nor any other regulatory body has approved or disapproved of these securities or passed upon the accuracy or adequacy of this prospectus. Any representation to the contrary is a criminal offense.

 

     Price to Public      Underwriting Discounts
and Commissions
     Proceeds to us  

Per ADS

   US$ 12.00      US$ 0.996      US$ 11.004  

Total

   US$ 90,000,000      US$ 7,470,000      US$ 82,530,000  

We have granted the underwriters the right to purchase up to an additional 1,125,000 ADSs to cover over-allotments within 30 days after the date of this prospectus at the initial public offering price less the underwriting discounts and commissions.

Upon the completion of this offering, our outstanding shares will consist of Class A ordinary shares and Class B ordinary shares, and we will be a “controlled company” as defined under the Nasdaq Stock Market Rules because Mr. Leaf Hua Li, our founder, chairman of the board of directors and chief executive officer, will beneficially own 74.1% of our then issued Class B ordinary shares and will be able to exercise 71.9% of the total voting power of our issued and outstanding shares immediately after the consummation of this offering, assuming the underwriters do not exercise their option to purchase additional ADSs. Holders of Class A ordinary shares and Class B ordinary shares have the same rights except for voting and conversion rights. Each Class A ordinary share is entitled to one vote, and each Class B ordinary share is entitled to twenty votes and is convertible into one Class A ordinary share at any time by the holders thereof. Class A ordinary shares are not convertible into Class B ordinary shares under any circumstances. Upon any sale, transfer, assignment or disposition of any Class B ordinary shares by a holder thereof to any non-affiliate of such holder, each of such Class B ordinary shares will be automatically and immediately converted into one Class A ordinary share.

Tencent Mobility Limited, an affiliate of Tencent Holdings Limited, has subscribed for, and has been allocated by the underwriters, 666,667 ADSs in this offering at the initial public offering price. The underwriters will receive the same underwriting discounts and commissions on any ADSs purchased by Tencent Mobility Limited as they will on any other ADSs sold to the public in this offering. For additional information, see “Underwriting (Conflicts of Interest).”

The underwriters expect to deliver the ADSs against payment in U.S. dollars in New York, New York on or about March 12, 2019.

 

Goldman Sachs (Asia) L.L.C.   UBS Investment Bank   Credit Suisse

 

HSBC   BOCI

 

 

Prospectus dated March 7, 2019.


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TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

     Page  

PROSPECTUS SUMMARY

     1  

THE OFFERING

     9  

SUMMARY CONSOLIDATED FINANCIAL AND OPERATING DATA

     13  

RISK FACTORS

     18  

SPECIAL NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

     66  

USE OF PROCEEDS

     68  

DIVIDEND POLICY

     69  

CAPITALIZATION

     70  

DILUTION

     72  

ENFORCEABILITY OF CIVIL LIABILITIES

     74  

CORPORATE HISTORY AND STRUCTURE

     76  

SELECTED CONSOLIDATED FINANCIAL DATA

     80  

MANAGEMENT’S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS

     83  

INDUSTRY

     112  

BUSINESS

     122  

REGULATION

     150  

MANAGEMENT

     174  

PRINCIPAL SHAREHOLDERS

     182  

RELATED PARTY TRANSACTIONS

     185  

DESCRIPTION OF SHARE CAPITAL

     187  

DESCRIPTION OF AMERICAN DEPOSITARY SHARES

     199  

SHARES ELIGIBLE FOR FUTURE SALES

     207  

TAXATION

     209  

UNDERWRITING (CONFLICTS OF INTEREST)

     216  

EXPENSES RELATED TO THIS OFFERING

     225  

LEGAL MATTERS

     226  

EXPERTS

     227  

WHERE YOU CAN FIND ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

     228  

INDEX TO CONSOLIDATED FINANCIAL STATEMENTS

     F-1  

No dealer, salesperson or other person is authorized to give any information or to represent anything not contained in this prospectus or in any free writing prospectus we may authorize to be delivered or made available to you. You must not rely on any unauthorized information or representations. This prospectus is an offer to sell only the ADSs offered hereby, but only under circumstances and in jurisdictions where it is lawful to do so. The information contained in this prospectus is current only as of its date.

Neither we nor any of the underwriters has done anything that would permit this offering or possession or distribution of this prospectus or any filed free writing prospectus in any jurisdiction where action for that purpose is required, other than in the United States. Persons outside the United States who come into possession of this prospectus or any filed free writing prospectus must inform themselves about, and observe any restrictions relating to, the offering of the ADSs and the distribution of this prospectus or any filed free writing prospectus outside of the United States.

Until April 1, 2019 (the 25th day after the date of this prospectus), all dealers that buy, sell or trade ADSs, whether or not participating in this offering, may be required to deliver a prospectus. This is in addition to the obligation of dealers to deliver a prospectus when acting as underwriters and with respect to their unsold allotments or subscriptions.

 

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PROSPECTUS SUMMARY

The following summary is qualified in its entirety by, and should be read in conjunction with, the more detailed information and financial statements appearing elsewhere in this prospectus. In addition to this summary, we urge you to read the entire prospectus carefully, especially the risks of investing in the ADSs discussed under “Risk Factors,” before deciding whether to invest in the ADSs. This prospectus contains information from an industry report commissioned by us and prepared by Oliver Wyman Consulting (Shanghai) Limited, or Oliver Wyman, an independent research firm, to provide information regarding our industry and our market position in Hong Kong.

Our Mission

We strive to redefine traditional investing with proprietary technologies and a relentless focus on user experience, providing a gateway to building the world’s leading digital financial institution.

Our Business

We are an advanced technology company transforming the investing experience by offering a fully digitized brokerage platform. Technology permeates every part of our business, allowing us to offer a redefined user experience built upon an agile, stable, scalable and secure platform. We primarily serve the emerging affluent Chinese population, pursuing a massive opportunity to facilitate a once-in-a-generation shift in the wealth management industry and build a digital gateway into broader financial services. As of December 31, 2018, we had an attractive and rapidly growing user base of 5.6 million, over 502,000 registered clients, defined as users who have opened trading accounts with us, and over 132,000 paying clients, defined as registered clients who have assets in their trading accounts. In 2018, we brokered HK$907.0 billion (US$115.8 billion) in client trades. According to Oliver Wyman, we ranked fourth among Hong Kong online retail brokers in terms of online brokerage revenue for the six months ended June 30, 2018.

We launched our business on the premise that no one should be precluded from investing on the basis of prohibitive transaction costs or market inexperience. We thus designed a platform around an elegant user experience integrating clear and relevant market data, social collaboration and best-in-class trade execution, finding that by delivering our vision through a purpose-built technology infrastructure we could disrupt traditional investing conventions. Over the last eight years we have continuously enhanced our technology and built a comprehensive, user-oriented and cloud-based platform that is fully-licensed to conduct securities brokerage business in Hong Kong. This serves as a foundation from which we execute our growth strategies with an operating efficiency that allows us to offer commission rates that are approximately one-fifth of the average rate offered by the leading players in Hong Kong, according to Oliver Wyman, creating a massive barrier to entry. As of December 31, 2018, approximately 65% of our workforce was dedicated to research and development, reflecting the degree to which technological excellence is entrenched in every aspect of our business.

We provide investing services through our proprietary digital platform, Futu NiuNiu, a highly integrated application accessible through any mobile device, tablet or desktop. Our primary fee-generating services include trade execution and margin financing which allow our clients to trade securities, such as stocks, warrants, options and exchange-traded funds, or ETFs, across different markets. We surround our trading and margin financing services and enhance our user and client experience with market data and news, research, as well as powerful analytical tools, providing our clients with a data rich foundation to simplify the investing decision-making process.

We broaden our reach and promote the exchange of information through NiuNiu Community, our social network services. In contrast to traditional investing platforms and other online brokers, we have embedded



 

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social media tools to create a network centered around our users and provide connectivity to users, investors, companies, analysts, media and key opinion leaders. This fosters the free flow of information, reduces information asymmetry and supports the investing decision-making process. For instance, users can exchange market views, watch live broadcasts of corporate events and participate in investment education courses offered through the NiuNiu Classroom. Importantly, our social network serves as a powerful engagement tool where in December 2018, the average DAUs reached over 151,000. In addition, in December 2018, users who were active on a daily basis spent an average of 24.1 minutes per trading day on our Futu NiuNiu platform. These user activities provide invaluable user data which informs our product development and monetization efforts.

We have a young, active and rapidly expanding user and client base. Our clients are, on average, 35 years old and generally high earning. Approximately 43.8% of our clients work in internet, information technology or financial services industries. On average, a client who traded in 2018 executed over 198 trades with a total trading volume of HK$7.5 million (US$1.0 million). Our total client asset balance increased from HK$15.5 billion as of December 31, 2016 to HK$44.4 billion as of December 31, 2017, and further increased to HK$50.9 billion (US$6.5 billion) as of December 31, 2018. Furthermore, our client base is loyal. We retained over 95% of our paying client base on a quarterly basis in 2016, and have retained over 97% of our paying client base on a quarterly basis since the beginning of 2017. We grow our client base mainly through online and offline marketing and promotional activities, including those through external marketing channels that we cooperate with and directly pay for as well as promotions and marketing campaigns conducted by us on our platform, word-of-mouth referrals and our corporate services. In 2018, approximately 18.1% of our client acquisition was through our corporate services.

We work with our strategic investor, Tencent Holdings Limited (“Tencent”), across a number of cooperation areas in a mutually beneficial relationship. Our collaboration is in part driven by our shared values of technological excellence and innovation. Collaborating with Tencent creates meaningful advantages to us. In December 2018, Shenzhen Futu Network Technology Co., Ltd., or Shenzhen Futu, one of our operating entities in China, entered into a strategic cooperation framework agreement with Shenzhen Tencent Computer System Co., Ltd. ( LOGO ), a subsidiary of Tencent. Pursuant to the strategic cooperation framework agreement, subject to further definitive agreements to be entered into between the parties and to the extent in compliance with applicable laws and regulations, Tencent agreed to cooperate with us in traffic, content and cloud areas through Tencent’s online platform. In addition, to the extent permitted by the applicable laws and regulations, we and Tencent agreed to further explore and pursue additional cooperation opportunities for potential cooperation in the area of fintech-related products and services to expand both parties’ international operations. Tencent also agreed to cooperate with us in the areas of ESOP services, administration, talent recruiting and training.

We have achieved significant growth in our user and client base, client assets, trading volumes and revenues. Our paying clients increased from 35,456 as of December 31, 2016 to 80,057 as of December 31, 2017, and further increased to 132,821 as of December 31, 2018. Our growing paying client base allowed us to increase client assets and trading volumes by 186.0% and 164.4%, respectively, in 2017 as compared to 2016, and by 14.7% and 75.1%, respectively, in 2018 as compared to 2017. In comparison, the trading volume grew by 14.5% and 8.3% from 2016 to 2017 and from 2017 to 2018, respectively, on the global online securities markets and by 54.5% and 33.2% from 2016 to 2017 and from 2017 to 2018, respectively, on the Hong Kong online securities market, according to Oliver Wyman. We believe the faster growth rate of our trading volume during the same years was mainly attributable to our unique competitive strengths such as the superior investing experience we provide through our fully digitalized brokerage platform, which have enabled us to rapidly and continually expand our client base and have fueled the strong momentum of our business. Our revenues grew from HK$87.0 million in 2016 to HK$311.7 million in 2017, and further to HK$811.3 million (US$103.6 million) in 2018. We were able to decrease our net loss from HK$98.5 million in 2016 to HK$8.1 million in 2017, and had net income of HK$138.5 million (US$17.7 million) in 2018. Our adjusted net income, which excludes share-based compensation expenses, reached HK$149.0 million (US$19.0 million) in 2018, compared to an adjusted net



 

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income of HK$1.7 million in 2017 and an adjusted net loss of HK$89.3 million in 2016. See “Summary Consolidated Financial and Operating Data—Non-GAAP Measures” for a reconciliation of adjusted net (loss)/income to net (loss)/income.

Our Industry

With popularization of mobile technology and growing acceptance of online trading, the global online securities market has grown faster than the overall securities market, expanding at a compound annual growth rate, or CAGR, of 20.6% over the past six years, reaching US$37.7 trillion in 2018. The online securities market is characterized by the following trends:

 

   

traditional brokers are shifting online while purely offline brokers are increasingly at a disadvantage or, in some cases, exiting the market altogether;

 

   

internet giants continue to invest in online brokerage services, demonstrating the industry’s recognition of online brokerage services as an important component of a financial services business and potentially a gateway to broader opportunities;

 

   

technological barriers to entry remain high particularly relating to building a secure infrastructure that can transcend geographies and asset classes;

 

   

operational barriers to entry remain high particularly relating to regulatory and capital requirements;

 

   

user experience remains a key competitive strength as digitally born investors become a larger component of the addressable market; and

 

   

revenue models are evolving as competition intensifies, with ancillary and other value-added services underlying platform differentiation.

Among global markets, Hong Kong is the world’s third largest online securities market, with annual trading volume growing from US$404.5 billion in 2012 to US$2.1 trillion in 2018, representing a CAGR of 31.6%, which is expected to reach US$3.7 trillion in 2023; the United States is the world’s second largest online securities market with annual trading volume growing from US$5.5 trillion in 2012 to US$11.6 trillion in 2018, which is expected to reach US$14.9 trillion in 2023.

China-based investors have contributed to the aforementioned market growth by deploying a significant proportion of their increasing overseas investable assets in online securities trading, especially in Hong Kong and the United States. Financial assets accounted for the largest allocation of overseas investment in 2018, among which stock investment reached US$262.0 billion, representing a CAGR of 34.1% from 2012 to 2018. Hong Kong market is particularly favored by China-based investors, because of its geographical and cultural proximity to China as well as the large number of listed Chinese companies.

As a result, China’s overseas online retail securities market represents a unique opportunity, combining the high growth of the global online securities market coupled with expanding overseas asset allocation by China-based investors. In 2018, the trading volume of China’s overseas online retail securities market reached US$451.6 billion, growing at a CAGR of 83.7% from 2012 to 2018. The market size is expected to reach nearly US$1.8 trillion in 2023, representing a CAGR of 31.6% from 2018 to 2023.

Our Strengths

We believe that the following competitive strengths contribute to our success and differentiate us from our competitors:

 

   

premier investing experience;



 

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closed-loop, proprietary technology infrastructure;

 

   

attractive user and client base; and

 

   

significant operating leverage.

Our Strategies

We intend to pursue the following strategies to further expand our business:

 

   

grow and monetize our client base;

 

   

broaden our core service offerings;

 

   

broaden our financial services footprint; and

 

   

invest in our platform.

Our Challenges

Our ability to realize our mission and execute our strategies is subject to risks and uncertainties, including those relating to our ability to:

 

   

manage our future growth;

 

   

navigate a complex and evolving regulatory environment;

 

   

offer personalized and competitive online brokerage and other financial services;

 

   

increase the utilization of our services by existing and new users;

 

   

offer attractive commission fees while driving the growth and profitability of our business;

 

   

continue to retain our profitability as we have become profitable since 2018 after incurring net losses in 2016 and 2017;

 

   

maintain and enhance our relationships with our business partners, including funding partners for our margin financing business;

 

   

enhance our technology infrastructure to support the growth of our business and maintain the security of our system and the confidentiality of the information provided and utilized across our system;

 

   

improve our operational efficiency;

 

   

attract, retain and motivate talented employees to support our business growth;

 

   

navigate economic condition and fluctuation; and

 

   

defend ourselves against legal and regulatory actions, such as actions involving intellectual property or privacy claims.

Corporate History and Structure

We commenced our operations in December 2007 through Shenzhen Futu Network Technology Co., Ltd., or Shenzhen Futu, a limited liability company established under the laws of the PRC, to provide internet technology and software development services.

Futu Securities International (Hong Kong) Limited, or Futu International Hong Kong, was incorporated under the laws of Hong Kong by Mr. Leaf Hua Li, our founder, chairman and chief executive officer in April



 

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2012. In October 2012, Futu International Hong Kong became a securities dealer registered with the HK SFC by obtaining a Type 1 License for dealing in securities. Futu International Hong Kong obtained a Type 2 License for dealing in future contracts, a Type 4 License for advising on securities, a Type 9 License for asset management and a Type 5 License for advising on future contracts from the HK SFC subsequently in July 2013, June 2015, July 2015, and August 2018, respectively. In October 2014, Mr. Li transferred all of Futu International Hong Kong’s shares to Futu Holdings Limited, or Futu Holdings, our holding company. Futu International Hong Kong established two wholly-owned PRC subsidiaries, Shenzhen Shidai Futu Consulting Limited, or Shenzhen Shidai, and Shenzhen Qianhai Fuzhitu Investment Consulting Management Limited, or Shenzhen Qianhai, in May 2015 and August 2015, respectively. As of the date of this prospectus, we conduct most aspects of our operations through Futu International Hong Kong in Hong Kong.

In April 2014, Futu Holdings was incorporated under the laws of the Cayman Islands as our holding company. In May 2014, Futu Securities (Hong Kong) Limited, or Futu Hong Kong, was incorporated under the laws of Hong Kong as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Futu Holdings. As of the date of this prospectus, Futu Hong Kong has not engaged in any operating activities. Futu Hong Kong established two wholly-owned PRC subsidiaries, Shensi Network Technology (Beijing) Co., Ltd., or Shensi Beijing, and Futu Network Technology (Shenzhen) Co., Ltd., in September 2014 and October 2015, respectively, which are referred to as our wholly-foreign-owned entities, or PRC WFOEs, in this prospectus.

Due to restrictions imposed by PRC laws and regulations on foreign ownership of companies that engage in internet and other related business, Shensi Beijing later entered into a series of contractual arrangements with Shenzhen Futu, which we refer to as our variable interest entity, or VIE, in this prospectus, and its shareholders. For more details, see “Corporate History and Structure—Contractual Arrangements with Our VIE and Its Shareholders.” As a result of our direct ownership in our PRC WFOEs and the variable interest entity contractual arrangements, we are regarded as the primary beneficiary of our VIE. We treated our VIE and its subsidiary as our consolidated affiliated entities under generally accepted accounting principles in the United States, or U.S. GAAP, and have consolidated the financial results of these entities in our consolidated financial statements in accordance with U.S. GAAP.

We operate our business mainly through Futu International Hong Kong, which is a HK SFC-regulated entity that holds the relevant licenses related to our securities brokerage business. In 2016, 2017 and 2018, we generated revenues of HK$83.2 million, HK$305.6 million and HK$795.0 million (US$101.5 million), accounting for 95.6%, 98.0% and 98.0% of our total revenues, respectively, from Futu International Hong Kong, whose assets amounted to HK$4,425.8 million, HK$10,748.7 million and HK$15,547.7 million (US$1,985.5 million), accounting for 98.0%, 98.4%, 96.8% of our total assets as of the end of the same years, respectively, taking intercompany transaction offset into consideration. We also conduct research and development activities in China through Futu Network and our VIE. In 2016, 2017 and 2018, we generated revenues of HK$2.5 million, HK$4.6 million and HK$3.2 million (US$0.4 million), accounting for 2.9%, 1.5% and 0.4% of our total revenues, respectively, from Futu Network and our VIE, whose assets amounted to HK$45.2 million, HK$73.8 million and HK$224.8 million (US$28.7 million), accounting for 1.0%, 0.7% and 1.4% of our total assets as of the end of the same years, respectively, taking intercompany transaction offset into consideration. As of the date of this prospectus, we have not engaged in any operating activities through our other subsidiaries in China.

We strategically established Futu Financial Limited, Futu Lending Limited and Futu Network Technology Limited, each a wholly-owned subsidiary of our company in Hong Kong, in April 2017, April 2017 and August 2015, respectively, for the purpose of our potential business expansion in the future. As of the date of this prospectus, these subsidiaries have not engaged in any active operating activities. In the past, compared to our total revenues and total assets, the revenues and assets of these subsidiaries were nominal.



 

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In addition, we established Futu Inc., Futu Clearing Inc. and Moomoo Inc., each a wholly-owned subsidiary of our company in the United States, in December 2015, August 2018 and March 2018, respectively, in order to improve our ability to offer investing services in overseas markets. As of the date of this prospectus, Futu Inc. and Moomoo Inc. have only recently commenced operations, and Futu Clearing Inc. has not yet commenced operations. The revenues and assets of these subsidiaries are nominal compared to the total assets of our company.

The following diagram illustrates our corporate structure, including our significant subsidiaries and our VIE, as of the date of this prospectus:

 

LOGO

 

Note:

(1)

Mr. Leaf Hua Li and Ms. Lei Li are beneficiary owners of our company and hold 85% and 15% equity interests, respectively, in Shenzhen Futu. Mr. Li is the founder, chairman and chief executive officer of our company and Ms. Li is Mr. Li’s spouse.

Implication of Being an Emerging Growth Company and a Foreign Private Issuer

As a company with less than US$1.07 billion in revenue for our last fiscal year, we qualify as an “emerging growth company” pursuant to the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act of 2012, as amended, or the JOBS Act. An emerging growth company may take advantage of specified reduced reporting and other requirements compared to those that are otherwise applicable generally to public companies. These provisions include exemption from the auditor attestation requirement under Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 in the assessment of the emerging growth company’s internal control over financial reporting.

We will remain an emerging growth company until the earliest of (a) the last day of the fiscal year during which we have total annual gross revenues of at least US$1.07 billion; (b) the last day of our fiscal year following the fifth anniversary of the completion of this offering; (c) the date on which we have, during the preceding three-year period, issued more than US$1.00 billion in non-convertible debt; or (d) the date on which



 

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we are deemed to be a “large accelerated filer” under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, or the Exchange Act, which would occur if the market value of the ADSs that are held by non-affiliates exceeds US$700 million as of the last business day of our most recently completed second fiscal quarter. Once we cease to be an emerging growth company, we will not be entitled to the exemptions provided in the JOBS Act discussed above.

We are a foreign private issuer within the meaning of the rules under the Exchange Act, and as such we are exempt from certain provisions of the securities rules and regulations in the United States that are applicable to U.S. domestic issuers. Moreover, the information we are required to file with or furnish to the SEC will be less extensive and less timely compared to that required to be filed with the SEC by U.S. domestic issuers. In addition, as a company incorporated in the Cayman Islands, we are permitted to adopt certain home country practices in relation to corporate governance matters that differ significantly from the Nasdaq listing standards. See “Risk Factors—Risks Related to the ADSs and This Offering—As a company incorporated in the Cayman Islands, we are permitted to adopt certain home country practices in relation to corporate governance matters that differ significantly from the Nasdaq listing standards; these practices may afford less protection to shareholders than they would enjoy if we complied fully with the Nasdaq listing standards.”

Corporate Information

Our principal executive offices are located at 11/F, Bangkok Bank Building, No. 18 Bonham Strand W, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong S.A.R., People’s Republic of China. Our telephone number at this address is +852 2523-3588. Our registered office in the Cayman Islands is located at the offices of Maples Corporate Services Limited at PO Box 309, Ugland House, Grand Cayman, KY1-1104, Cayman Islands.

Investors should submit any inquiries to the address and telephone number of our principal executive offices. Our main website is www.futuholdings.com. The information contained on our website is not a part of this prospectus. Our agent for service of process in the United States is Puglisi & Associates, located at 850 Library Avenue, Suite 204, Newark, Delaware 19711.

Conventions that Apply to this Prospectus

Unless otherwise indicated or the context otherwise requires, references in this prospectus to:

 

   

“ADSs” are to American depositary shares, each of which represents eight Class A ordinary shares;

 

   

“availability rate” are to the ratio of the total time a service system is capable of being used during the market hours of the relevant equity markets;

 

   

“average DAUs” in a given period are to the average of the DAUs on each trading day during that period;

 

   

“China” or the “PRC” are to the People’s Republic of China, excluding, for the purposes of this prospectus only, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan;

 

   

“churn rate” are to the percentage of the decrease in the same paying client cohort between the beginning and ending of a given period divided by the number of paying clients at the beginning of the same period;

 

   

“Class A ordinary shares” are to our Class A ordinary shares, par value US$0.00001 per share;

 

   

“Class B ordinary shares” are to our Class B ordinary shares, par value US$0.00001 per share;

 

   

“DAUs” are measured based on the number of user accounts and visitors who access our Futu NiuNiu platform at least once on a given trading day. Some visitors may access our platform using more than one device on a given trading day and we calculate the number of visitors who access our platform based on the number of the devices used by the visitors to access our platform;



 

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“Futu,” “we,” “us,” “our company” and “our” are to Futu Holdings Limited, our Cayman Islands holding company and its subsidiaries, its consolidated affiliated entities;

 

   

“HK$” and “Hong Kong dollars” are to the legal currency of Hong Kong;

 

   

“HK SFC” are to the Securities and Futures Commission of Hong Kong;

 

   

“MAUs” are measured based on the number of user accounts and visitors who access our Futu NiuNiu platform at least once during the calendar month in question. Some visitors may access our platform using more than one device in a given month and we calculate the number of visitors who access our platform based on the number of the devices used by the visitors to access our platform;

 

   

“paying clients” are to the number of the clients with assets in their trading accounts on our platform;

 

   

“registered clients” or “clients” are to the number of users who open one or more trading accounts on our platform;

 

   

“RMB” and “Renminbi” are to the legal currency of China;

 

   

“shares” or “ordinary shares” refers to our ordinary shares, par value US$0.00001 per share, and upon and after the completion of this offering, are to our Class A and Class B ordinary shares, par value US$0.00001 per share;

 

   

“US$,” “U.S. dollars,” “$,” and “dollars” are to the legal currency of the United States; and

 

   

“users” are to the number of user accounts registered with our Futu NiuNiu applications or websites.

Unless the context indicates otherwise, all share and per share data in this prospectus have given effect to the one to 500 share split effected on September 22, 2016, following which each of our previously issued ordinary shares, Series A preferred shares, Series A-1 preferred shares and Series B preferred shares was subdivided into 500 ordinary shares, Series A preferred shares, Series A-1 preferred shares and Series B preferred shares, respectively. In addition, all information in this prospectus assumes no exercise by the underwriters of their over-allotment option.



 

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THE OFFERING

 

Offering price

US$12.00 per ADS.

 

ADSs offered by us

7,500,000 ADSs (or 8,625,000 ADSs if the underwriters exercise their over-allotment option in full).

 

ADSs outstanding immediately after this offering

7,500,000 ADSs (or 8,625,000 ADSs if the underwriters exercise their over-allotment option in full).

 

Concurrent Private Placement

Concurrently with, and subject to, the completion of this offering, General Atlantic Singapore FT Pte. Ltd., a non-U.S. and non-affiliated entity, has agreed to purchase from us US$70,000,000 in Class A ordinary shares at a price per share equal to the initial public offering price per share, or the Concurrent Private Placement. The investor will purchase 46,666,666 Class A ordinary shares from us. Our proposed issuance and sale of Class A ordinary shares to the investor is being made through a private placement pursuant to an exemption from registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission under Regulation S of the Securities Act. The investor has agreed with the underwriters not to, directly or indirectly, sell, transfer or dispose of any Class A ordinary shares acquired in the private placement for a period of 180 days after the date of the final prospectus, subject to certain exceptions. In connection with the Concurrent Private Placement, we have granted registration rights to the investor on terms and conditions equivalent to and on a pari passu basis as holders of registrable securities as described under “Description of Share Capital—History of Securities Issuances—Registration Rights.”

 

Ordinary shares outstanding immediately after this offering

888,347,760 ordinary shares, comprised of 343,795,709 Class A ordinary shares (including 46,666,666 Class A ordinary shares we will issue in the Concurrent Private Placement) and 544,552,051 Class B ordinary shares (or 897,347,760 ordinary shares if the underwriters exercise their over-allotment option in full, comprised of 352,795,709 Class A ordinary shares and 544,552,051 Class B ordinary shares) will be issued and outstanding immediately upon the completion of this offering.

 

The ADSs

Each ADS represents eight Class A ordinary shares, par value US$0.00001 per share.

 

  The depositary will hold Class A ordinary shares underlying your ADSs. You will have rights as provided in the deposit agreement among us, the depositary and holders and beneficial owners of ADSs from time to time.


 

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  We do not expect to pay dividends in the foreseeable future. If, however, we declare dividends on our Class A ordinary shares, the depositary will pay you the cash dividends and other distributions it receives on our Class A ordinary shares after deducting its fees and expenses in accordance with the terms set forth in the deposit agreement.

 

  You may turn in your ADSs to the depositary in exchange for Class A ordinary shares. The depositary will charge you fees for any exchange.

 

  We and the depositary may amend the deposit agreement without your consent. If you continue to hold your ADSs after an amendment to the deposit agreement, you agree to be bound by the deposit agreement as amended.

 

  To better understand the terms of the ADSs, you should carefully read the “Description of American Depositary Shares” section of this prospectus. You should also read the deposit agreement, which is filed as an exhibit to the registration statement that includes this prospectus.

 

Ordinary shares

We will issue 60,000,000 Class A ordinary shares represented by the ADSs in this offering (assuming the underwriters do not exercise their option to purchase additional ADSs). Our ordinary shares will be divided into Class A ordinary shares and Class B ordinary shares immediately prior to the completion of this offering. Holders of Class A ordinary shares and Class B ordinary shares will have the same rights except for voting and conversion rights. In respect of matters requiring a shareholder vote, each Class A ordinary share will be entitled to one vote, and each Class B ordinary share will be entitled to 20 votes. Each Class B ordinary share is convertible into one Class A ordinary share at any time by the holder thereof. Class A ordinary shares are not convertible into Class B ordinary shares under any circumstances. Upon any sale, transfer, assignment or disposition of any Class B ordinary shares by a holder thereof to any non-affiliate of such holder, each of such Class B ordinary shares will be automatically and immediately converted into one Class A ordinary share. See “Description of Share Capital.”

 

Over-allotment option

We have granted to the underwriters an option, exercisable within 30 days from the date of this prospectus, to purchase up to an aggregate of 1,125,000 additional ADSs at the initial public offering price less the underwriting discounts and commissions.

 

Use of proceeds

We expect that we will receive net proceeds of approximately US$148.4 million (or US$160.8 million if the underwriters exercise their over-allotment option in full) from this offering and the Concurrent Private Placement, after deducting underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us.


 

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  We plan to use the net proceeds from this offering and the Concurrent Private Placement for general corporate purposes, including research and development, working capital needs, and increased regulatory capital requirements of the HK SFC and regulatory authorities in other jurisdictions as a result of our business expansion. See “Use of Proceeds” for more information.

 

Lock-up

We, our directors, executive officers, all of our existing shareholders and holders of our share-based awards and the Concurrent Private Placement investor have agreed with the underwriters not to sell, transfer or dispose of any ADSs, ordinary shares or similar securities for a period of 180 days after the date of this prospectus. In addition, we have agreed to instruct The Bank of New York Mellon, as depositary, not to accept any deposit of any ordinary shares or issue any ADSs for 180 days after the date of this prospectus (other than in connection with this offering), unless we instruct the depositary with the prior written consent of the representatives of the underwriters. See “Shares Eligible for Future Sales” and “Underwriting (Conflicts of Interest).”

 

Conflicts of Interest

Because Futu Inc., a selling group member in this offering, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of ours, Futu Inc. is deemed to have a “conflict of interest” under Rule 5121 (“Rule 5121”) of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. (“FINRA”). Accordingly, this offering is being made in compliance with the requirements of Rule 5121. See “Underwriting (Conflicts of Interest).”

 

Directed ADS Program

At our request, the underwriters have reserved up to 5% of the ADSs being offered by this prospectus for sale at the initial public offering price to certain of our directors, executive officers, employees, business associates and members of their families. Any sales made through the directed share program will be made by ViewTrade Securities, Inc.

 

Listing

The ADSs have been approved for listing on the Nasdaq Global Market under the symbol “FHL.” The ADSs and our ordinary shares will not be listed on any other stock exchange or traded on any automated quotation system.

 

Payment and settlement

The underwriters expect to deliver the ADSs against payment therefor through the facilities of the Depository Trust Company on March 12, 2019.

 

Depositary

The Bank of New York Mellon.

The number of ordinary shares that will be outstanding immediately after this offering:

 

   

is based on 781,681,094 ordinary shares outstanding as of the date of this prospectus, assuming (i) re-designation or conversion of all outstanding ordinary shares and preferred shares (other than ordinary shares held by Lera Ultimate Limited and Lera Infinity Limited and 140,802,051 preferred shares held by Qiantang River Investment Limited) into 237,129,043 Class A ordinary shares and (ii) re-designation or conversion of all outstanding ordinary shares held by Lera Ultimate Limited and Lera Infinity Limited and 140,802,051 preferred shares held by Qiantang River Investment Limited into 544,552,051 Class B ordinary shares, in each case immediately upon the completion of this offering;



 

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includes 7,500,000 Class A ordinary shares in the form of ADSs that we will issue and sell in this offering, assuming no exercise of the underwriters’ option to purchase additional ADSs representing Class A ordinary shares;

 

   

includes 46,666,666 Class A ordinary shares we will issue and sell in the Concurrent Private Placement;

 

   

excludes 121,207,838 Class A ordinary shares issuable upon exercise of our outstanding options as of the date of this prospectus; and

 

   

excludes 13,824,294 Class A ordinary shares reserved for future issuances under our equity incentive plans.



 

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SUMMARY CONSOLIDATED FINANCIAL AND OPERATING DATA

The following summary consolidated statement of comprehensive (loss)/income data for the years ended December 31, 2016, 2017 and 2018, summary consolidated balance sheet data as of December 31, 2017 and 2018 and summary consolidated cash flow data for the years ended December 31, 2016, 2017 and 2018 have been derived from our audited consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this prospectus. Our consolidated financial statements are prepared and presented in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America, or U.S. GAAP. Our historical results are not necessarily indicative of results expected for future periods. You should read this Summary Consolidated Financial and Operating Data section together with our consolidated financial statements and the related notes and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” included elsewhere in this prospectus.

 

    For the Year ended December 31,  
    2016     2017     2018  
    HK$     HK$     HK$     US$  
    (in thousands, except for share and per share data)  

Summary Consolidated Statements of Comprehensive (Loss)/Income Data :

       

Revenues

       

Brokerage commission and handling charge income

    74,498       184,918       407,990       52,103  

Interest income

    5,795       105,872       360,585       46,049  

Other income

    6,722       20,873       42,768       5,462  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total revenues

    87,015       311,663       811,343       103,614  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Costs

       

Brokerage commission and handling charge expenses

    (18,730     (36,777     (80,127     (10,233

Interest expenses

    (3,459     (19,879     (95,624     (12,212

Processing and servicing costs

    (22,880     (52,446     (73,843     (9,430
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total costs

    (45,069     (109,102     (249,594 )      (31,875 ) 
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total gross profit

    41,946       202,561       561,749       71,739  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Operating expenses

       

Research and development expenses(1)

    (61,624     (95,526     (151,097     (19,296

Selling and marketing expenses(1)

    (59,198     (41,446     (98,062     (12,523

General and administrative expenses(1)

    (31,786     (57,293     (103,831     (13,260
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total operating expenses

    (152,608     (194,265     (352,990 )      (45,079 ) 
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Others, net

    (1,085     (4,918     (7,959     (1,016

(Loss)/income before income tax benefit/(expense)

    (111,747     3,378       200,800       25,644  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Income tax benefit/(expense)

    13,276       (11,480     (62,288     (7,955

Net (loss)/income

    (98,471     (8,102     138,512       17,689  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Preferred shares redemption value accretion

    (17,929     (47,715     (66,998     (8,556

Income allocation to participating preferred shareholders

    —         —         (34,576     (4,416
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net (loss)/income attributable to ordinary shareholder of the Company

    (116,400     (55,817     36,938       4,717  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net (loss)/income

    (98,471     (8,102     138,512       17,689  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Other comprehensive (loss)/income, net of tax

       

Foreign currency translation adjustment

    (4,142     3,366       754       96  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total comprehensive (loss)/income

    (102,613     (4,736     139,266       17,785  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 


 

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    For the Year ended December 31,  
    2016     2017     2018  
    HK$     HK$     HK$     US$  
    (in thousands, except for share and per share data)  

Net (loss)/income per share attributable to ordinary shareholder of the Company

       

Basic

    (0.29     (0.14     0.09       0.01  

Diluted

    (0.29     (0.14     0.07       0.01  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Weighted average number of ordinary shares used in computing net (loss)/income per share

       

Basic

    403,750,000       403,750,000       403,750,000       403,750,000  

Diluted

    403,750,000       403,750,000       511,536,122       511,536,122  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

Note:

(1)

Share-based compensation expenses were allocated as follows:

 

     For the Year Ended
December 31,
 
     2016      2017      2018  
     HK$      HK$      HK$      US$  
     (in thousands)  

Selling and marketing expenses

     261        161        104        13  

Research and development expenses

     8,335        8,854        9,223        1,178  

General and administrative expenses

     559        754        1,113        142  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Total

     9,155        9,769        10,440        1,333  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 


 

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    As of December 31,     Pro Forma
December 31,
(Unaudited)
 
  2017     2018     2018     2018     2018  
  HK$     HK$     US$     HK$     US$  
    (in thousands)  

Summary Consolidated Balance Sheet Data:

         

Assets

         

Cash and cash equivalents

    375,263       215,617       27,536       215,617       27,536  

Cash held on behalf of clients

    7,176,579       11,771,487       1,503,287       11,771,487       1,503,287  

Available-for-sale financial securities

    —         59,348       7,579       59,348       7,579  

Amounts due from related parties

    6,541       —         —         —         —    

Loans and advances

    2,907,967       3,086,904       394,215       3,086,904       394,215  

Receivables:

         

Clients

    218,960       120,256       15,357       120,256       15,357  

Brokers

    106,078       425,849       54,383       425,849       54,383  

Clearing organization

    55,892       175,955       22,470       175,955       22,470  

Interest

    7,041       49,427       6,313       49,427       6,313  

Prepaid assets

    3,646       8,810       1,125       8,810       1,125  

Other assets

    65,918       149,279       19,064       149,279       19,064  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total assets

    10,923,885       16,062,932       2,051,329       16,062,932       2,051,329  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Liabilities

         

Amounts due to related parties

    14,687       8,591       1,097       8,591       1,097  

Payables:

         

Clients

    7,340,823       12,304,717       1,571,383       12,304,717       1,571,383  

Brokers

    929,692       920,871       117,601       920,871       117,601  

Clearing organization

    82,878       —         —         —         —    

Interest

    2,066       2,405       308       2,405       308  

Short-term borrowings

    1,542,448       1,576,251       201,296       1,576,251       201,296  

Convertible notes

    —         —         —         —         —    

Accrued expenses and other liabilities

    60,717       149,818       19,133       149,818       19,133  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total liabilities

    9,973,311       14,962,653       1,910,818       14,962,653       1,910,818  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total mezzanine equity

    1,183,475       1,250,472       159,692       —         —    

Total shareholders’ (deficit)/equity

    (232,901     (150,193     (19,181     1,100,279       140,511  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total liabilities, mezzanine equity and shareholders’ (deficit)/equity

    10,923,885       16,062,932       2,051,329       16,062,932       2,051,329  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 


 

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     For the Year Ended December 31,  
     2016     2017     2018  
     HK$     HK$     HK$     US$  
     (in thousands)  

Summary Consolidated Cash Flow Data:

        

Net cash generated from operating activities

     1,397,692       1,855,328       4,470,167       570,866  

Net cash used in investing activities

     (6,230     (5,145     (78,052     (9,967

Net cash generated from financing activities

     147,594       2,155,846       35,690       4,558  

Effect of exchange rate changes on cash, cash equivalents and restricted cash

     77       21,625       7,457       952  

Net increase in cash, cash equivalents and restricted cash

     1,539,133       4,027,654       4,435,262       566,409  

Cash, cash equivalents and restricted cash at beginning of the year

     1,985,055       3,524,188       7,551,842       964,414  

Cash, cash equivalents and restricted cash at end of the year

     3,524,188       7,551,842       11,987,104       1,530,823  
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Summary Operating Data:

 

     As of December 31,  
     2016      2017      2018  

Users(1)

     3,191,349        3,902,565        5,578,858  

Registered clients

     148,320        286,502        502,452  

Paying clients

     35,456        80,057        132,821  

 

     For the Year Ended December 31,  
     2016      2017      2018  
     HK$      HK$      HK$      US$  
     (in billion)  

Trading volume

     195.9        517.9        907.0        115.8  

 

     As of December 31,  
     2016      2017      2018  
     HK$      HK$      HK$      US$  
     (in billion)  

Client assets

     15.5        44.4        50.9        6.5  

 

Note:

(1)

Among these users, 1,305,131, 719,812 and 1,236,885 had at least one activity on our platform in 2016, 2017 and 2018, respectively. A user is deemed to have an activity on our platform if the user has accessed and logged into our Futu NiuNiu applications or websites at least once in a given period.

Non-GAAP Measures

We use adjusted net (loss)/income, a non-GAAP financial measure, in evaluating our operating results and for financial and operational decision-making purposes. Adjusted net (loss)/income represents net (loss)/income excluding share-based compensation expenses, and such adjustment has no impacts on income tax.

We believe that adjusted net (loss)/income helps identify underlying trends in our business that could otherwise be distorted by the effect of certain expenses that we include in net income. We believe that adjusted net (loss)/income provides useful information about our operating results, enhance the overall understanding of our past performance and future prospects and allow for greater visibility with respect to key metrics used by our management in its financial and operational decision-making.

Adjusted net (loss)/income should not be considered in isolation or construed as an alternative to net income or any other measure of performance or as an indicator of our operating performance. Investors are encouraged to



 

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review the historical non-GAAP financial measures to the most directly comparable GAAP measures. Adjusted net (loss)/income presented here may not be comparable to similarly titled measures presented by other companies. Other companies may calculate similarly titled measures differently, limiting their usefulness as comparative measures to our data. We encourage investors and others to review our financial information in its entirety and not rely on a single financial measure.

The table below sets forth a reconciliation of our adjusted net (loss)/income to net (loss)/income for the years indicated.

 

     For the Year ended
December 31,
 
     2016     2017     2018  
     HK$     HK$     HK$      US$  
     (in thousands)  

Net (loss)/income

     (98,471     (8,102     138,512        17,689  

Add: share-based compensation expenses

     9,155       9,769       10,440        1,333  
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

    

 

 

 

Adjusted net (loss)/income

     (89,316     1,667       148,952        19,022  
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

    

 

 

 


 

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RISK FACTORS

Risks Related to Our Business and Industry

We have a limited operating history which makes it difficult to evaluate our future prospects.

We launched our online brokerage business in 2012 and experienced significant growth since 2015. Between 2012 and 2015, we focused on continuously improving our platform and technology infrastructure. As our business is built on cutting-edge technology and a majority of our staff come from internet and technology companies, which differentiate us from traditional brokers, we have limited experience in most aspects of our business operation, such as trading, margin financing and securities lending. In addition, we have limited experience in serving our current user and client base. As our business develops and as we respond to competition, we may continue to introduce new service offerings, make adjustments to our existing services, or make adjustments to our business operation in general. Any significant change to our business model that does not achieve expected results may have a material and adverse impact on our financial condition and results of operations. It is therefore difficult to effectively assess our future prospects.

The online brokerage industry may not develop as expected. Prospective users and clients of our services may not be familiar with the development of online brokerage markets and may have difficulty distinguishing our services from those of our competitors. Convincing prospective users and clients of the value of using our services is critical to increasing the amount of transactions on our platform and to the success of our business.

You should consider our business and prospects in light of the risks and challenges we encounter or may encounter given the rapidly evolving market in which we operate and our limited operating history. These risks and challenges include our ability to, among other things:

 

   

manage our future growth;

 

   

navigate a complex and evolving regulatory environment;

 

   

offer personalized and competitive online brokerage and other financial services;

 

   

increase the utilization of our services by existing and new users;

 

   

offer attractive commission fees while driving the growth and profitability of our business;

 

   

maintain and enhance our relationships with our business partners, including funding partners for our margin financing business;

 

   

enhance our technology infrastructure to support the growth of our business and maintain the security of our system and the confidentiality of the information provided and utilized across our system;

 

   

improve our operational efficiency;

 

   

attract, retain and motivate talented employees to support our business growth;

 

   

navigate economic condition and fluctuation; and

 

   

defend ourselves against legal and regulatory actions, such as actions involving intellectual property or privacy claims.

Our historical growth rates may not be indicative of our future growth.

We have experienced rapid growth in our business and operations since our inception. The trading volume on our platform grew 164.4% from HK$195.9 billion in 2016 to HK$517.9 billion in 2017 and 75.1% from HK$517.9 billion in 2017 to HK$907.0 billion (US$115.8 billion) in 2018. Our total revenues increased by 258.3% from HK$87.0 million in 2016 to HK$311.7 million in 2017, and by 160.3% from HK$311.7 million in 2017 to HK$811.3 million (US$103.6 million) in 2018. However, our historical growth rates may not be

 

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indicative of our future growth, and we may not be able to generate similar growth rates in future periods. We cannot assure you that we will grow at the same rate as we have in the past. If our growth rate declines, investors’ perceptions of our business and business prospects may be adversely affected and the market price of the ADSs could decline. You should consider our prospects in light of the risks and uncertainties that fast-growing companies with limited operating histories in a quickly-evolving industry may encounter.

We may not be able to manage our expansion effectively. Continuous expansion may increase the complexity of our business and place a strain on our management, operations, technical systems, financial resources and internal control functions. Our current and planned personnel, systems, resources and controls may not be adequate to support and effectively manage our future operations. We upgrade our systems from time to time to cater to the need of launching new services and executing increasing trading volume, and the process of upgrading our current systems may disrupt our ability to timely and accurately process information, which could adversely affect our results of operations and cause harm to our business.

Our entrepreneurial and collaborative culture is important to us, and we believe it has been a major contributor to our success. We may have difficulties maintaining our culture to meet the needs of our future and evolving operations as we continue to grow, in particular as we grow internationally. In addition, our ability to maintain our culture as a public company, with changes in policies, practices, corporate governance and management requirements, may be challenging. Failure to maintain our culture could have a material adverse effect on our business.

We are subject to extensive and evolving regulatory requirements in Hong Kong, non-compliance with which, may result in penalties, limitations and prohibitions on our future business activities or suspension or revocation of our licenses and trading rights, and consequently may materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition, operations and prospects. In addition, we are involved in ongoing inquiries and investigations by the HK SFC.

The markets in Hong Kong in which we operate are highly regulated. However, the online-based brokerage service industry (including, for example, the use of cloud-based operating, computing and record keeping technology as well as biometric identification technology) is at a relatively early stage of development, and applicable laws, regulations and other requirements may be changed and adopted from time to time. Our business operations are subject to applicable Hong Kong laws, regulations, guidelines, circulars, and other regulatory guidance, or collectively the “HK Brokerage Service Rules,” including, for example, the SFO and its subsidiary legislation. These HK Brokerage Service Rules set out the licensing requirements, regulate our operational activities and standards, and impose requirements such as maintaining minimum liquidity or capital along with other filing, record keeping and reporting obligations relevant to our business operations. See “Regulation—Overview of the Laws and Regulations Relating to Our Business and Operations in Hong Kong.” Failure to comply with applicable HK Brokerage Service Rules can result in investigations and regulatory actions, which may lead to penalties, including reprimands, fines, limitations or prohibitions on our future business activities or suspension or revocation of our licenses or trading rights. Any outcome may affect our ability to conduct business, harm our reputation and, consequently, materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.

From time to time, Futu International Hong Kong as a HK SFC-licensed corporation may be subject to or required to assist in inquiries or investigations by relevant regulatory authorities in Hong Kong, principally the HK SFC. The HK SFC conducts on-site reviews and off-site monitoring to ascertain and supervise our business conduct and compliance with relevant regulatory requirements and to assess and monitor, among other things, our financial soundness. We are subject to such regulatory inquiries and investigations from time to time. If any misconduct is identified as a result of inquiries, reviews or investigations, the HK SFC may take disciplinary actions which would lead to revocation or suspension of licenses, public or private reprimand or imposition of pecuniary penalties against us, our responsible officers, licensed representatives, directors or other officers. Any such disciplinary actions taken against us, our responsible officers, licensed representatives, directors or other

 

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officers may have a material and adverse impact on our business operations and financial results. In addition, we are subject to statutory secrecy obligations under the SFO whereby we may not be permitted to disclose details on any HK SFC inquiries, reviews or investigations without the consent of the HK SFC.

As of the date of this prospectus, Futu International Hong Kong is subject to ongoing investigations by the HK SFC relating to anti-money laundering laws, practices relating to protection of client assets, and handling and monitoring client orders and trading activities. In addition, Futu International Hong Kong is involved in ongoing regulatory inquiries by the HK SFC relating to client onboarding processes. We are unable to accurately predict the outcome of the inquiries and investigations because of their ongoing nature. See “Business—Ongoing Regulatory Actions.” There remains a risk that on conclusion of the inquiries and investigations, the HK SFC may identify misconduct or material non-compliance and decide to take regulatory actions, which may include, among other things, reprimands, fines, limitations or prohibitions on our future business activities or suspension or revocation of Futu International Hong Kong’s licenses and trading rights. There also remains a risk that we may not be able to rectify our practices to be in compliance with relevant HK Brokerage Service Rules following the identification of any such misconduct or material non-compliance, which may result in the HK SFC taking additional regulatory actions against us in the forms described above. If any such outcome were to arise, there may be a material and adverse effect on our business, results of operations, financial conditions and prospects. Our reputation may also be harmed.

Our online client onboarding procedures do not strictly follow the specified steps set out by the relevant authorities in Hong Kong.

As online-based brokerage services in Hong Kong and China and, in particular, the technologies and practices involved in online account opening services are at relatively early stages of development, applicable laws, regulations, guidelines, circulars and other regulatory guidance with regard to online client onboarding procedures remain evolving and are subject to further changes. Residents in China can open Hong Kong or U.S. trading accounts with us by following the online application procedures summarized in the prospectus. See “Business Section—Our Services—Trading, Clearing and Settlement—Account Opening.” Our system supports the online verification procedures, among others, based on a prospective client’s PRC identification information and debit card issued by a bank based in China. The HK SFC’s current position on the expressly specified non-face-to-face approaches for account opening, including online account opening, in light of HK SFC regulatory requirements is summarized in paragraph 5.1 of the SFC Code of Conduct and SFC circulars dated May 12, 2015, October 24, 2016 and July 12, 2018 (together, the “SFC Circulars”). There are various methods set out under the SFC Circulars for online account opening, one of which is to use e-certification services provided by certification authorities outside Hong Kong whose electronic signature certificates have obtained mutual recognition status accepted by the Hong Kong government and the relevant local government when onboarding clients. Because our online client onboarding procedures for residents in China as discussed above do not strictly follow the specified methods set out in the SFC Circulars, for example, we do not require e-certification for all clients as part of the client onboarding process, starting from late November 2018, we began to test and implement an e-certification procedure through a mutually recognized certification authority as part of our online onboarding process for a very limited number of new applications. There is no assurance that we will be able to achieve full implementation timely, or at all. We are currently in discussion with the HK SFC regarding our online client onboarding procedures. If we were required by the HK SFC to remediate our account opening procedures for all of our existing clients retroactively or to make further adjustments to our online client onboarding process, we will need to incur extensive time and costs and our customer experience may be adversely impacted. As a result, such remediation or adjustments may have a material adverse impact on our operations, business prospects, user experience and client acquisition and retention. If our online client onboarding procedures are finally determined by the HK SFC to be not in compliance with the applicable laws, regulations, guidelines, circulars and other regulatory guidance, we may be subject to regulatory actions, which may include, in addition to remediation, reprimands, fines, limitations or prohibitions on our future business activities and/or suspension or revocation of Futu International Hong Kong’s licenses and trading rights.

 

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We do not hold any license or permit for providing securities brokerage business in China. Although we do not believe we engage in securities brokerage business in China, there remain uncertainties to the interpretation and implementation of relevant PRC laws and regulations.

Pursuant to the relevant PRC laws and regulations, no entity or individual shall engage in securities business without the approval of the securities regulatory authority of the State Council. See “Regulations—Overview of the Laws and Regulations Relating to Our Business and Operations in China—Regulations on Securities Business.” We do not hold any license or permit in relation to providing securities brokerage business in China. A significant portion of our technology, research and development, management, supporting and other teams are based in China and a large number of our clients are PRC citizens. However, we do not believe the business we are conducting now through our subsidiaries or consolidated affiliated entities in China is securities brokerage business in China. In the past, we received inquiries relating to our business from certain regulatory authorities in China. We have since then taken measures to modify and enhance our business and platform to be in compliance with the applicable PRC laws and regulations related to securities brokerage business in China. However, we cannot assure you that the measures we have taken or will take in the future will be effective or fully satisfy the relevant regulatory authorities’ requirements. Based on the opinion of our PRC counsel, CM Law Firm, we are in compliance with the applicable PRC laws and regulations related to securities brokerage business in China after such modifications in all material aspects. However, there remain some uncertainties as to how the current and any future PRC laws and regulations will be interpreted or implemented in the context of operating securities related business in China. We cannot assure you that our current operation model, such as redirecting users and clients to open accounts and make transactions outside China, will not be deemed as operating securities brokerage business in China, which may subject us to further inquiries or rectifications. If certain of our activities in China were deemed by relevant regulators as provision of securities brokerage services, investment consulting services and stock options brokerage business in China, we will be required to obtain relevant licenses or permits from relevant regulatory bodies, including the CSRC, and failure of obtaining such licenses or permits may subject us to regulatory actions and penalties, including fines, suspension of parts or all of our operations in the PRC, and temporary suspension or removal of our websites and mobile application in China. In such cases, our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects may be materially and adversely affected.

PRC governmental control of currency conversion, cross-border remittance and offshore investment could have a direct impact on the trading volume achieved on our platform. If the government further tightens restrictions on converting Renminbi to foreign currencies, including Hong Kong dollars and U.S. dollars, and/or deems our practice as in violation of PRC laws and regulations, our business will be materially and adversely affected.

Since we launched our online brokerage business, the majority of our clients are Chinese nationals. We do not provide cross-border currency conversion services related to Renminbi to our clients, and we require those who would like to trade securities listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange or any major stock exchanges in the United States through our platform to deposit funding into their respective trading accounts in Hong Kong in either Hong Kong dollars or U.S. dollars.

In addition, the PRC government imposes controls on the convertibility of Renminbi into foreign currencies and, in certain cases, currency remittance out of the PRC. Since 2016, the PRC government has tightened its foreign exchange policies and stepped up its scrutiny of outbound capital movement. Under the current regulatory framework, Chinese nationals are limited to a foreign exchange quota of US$50,000 per year for approved uses only, such as tourism and education purposes and Chinese nationals can only engage in offshore investments under capital items through provided method such as Qualified Domestic Institutional Investors. See “Regulations—Overview of the Laws and Regulations Relating to Our Business and Operations in China—Regulations on Offshore Stocks Investment.” If the government further tightens the amount of currency exchange allowed for Chinese nationals, increases the control over remittance of currency out of the PRC, and/or specifically prohibits any exchanges for securities-related investment, the trading activities of Chinese nationals on our platform could be restricted, which would significantly reduce the trading volume on our platform. As our

 

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revenues from brokerage commission income depends heavily on the total trading volume facilitated on our platform, the occurrence of any of the above regulatory changes would have a material and adverse impact on our business, operating and financial results.

In addition, under the existing regulations on offshore investment, approval from or registration with appropriate government authorities is required when Renminbi is to be converted into foreign currency for the purpose of offshore investment. As we do not provide cross-border currency conversion services related to Renminbi to our Chinese national clients, we do not require our clients to submit evidence of approval or registration from relevant authorities with respect to the foreign currency used for offshore investments. Since the PRC authorities and the commercial banks designated by the SAFE to conduct foreign exchange services have significant amount of discretion in interpreting, implementing and enforcing the relevant foreign exchange rules and regulations, and for many other factors that are beyond our control and anticipation, we may face more severe consequences, including but not limited to being asked to take additional and burdensome measures to monitor the source and use of the foreign currency funds in the accounts of our clients, verify evidence of approval from relevant authorities or suspend our operations pending an investigation or indefinitely. In such cases, we may face regulatory warnings, correction orders, condemnation and fines, and may not be able to conduct our current business in the future. We may also be subject to regular inspections from relevant authorities from time to time. If such situations occur, our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects would be materially and adversely affected.

We face significant competition in the online brokerage industry, and if we are unable to compete effectively, we may lose our market share and our results of operations and financial condition may be materially and adversely affected.

The market for online brokerage services is relatively new, rapidly evolving and intensely competitive. We expect competition to continue and intensify in the future. We face competition from traditional retail brokerage firms and financial service providers in Hong Kong who, in an effort to satisfy the demands of their clients for hands-on electronic trading facilities, universal access to markets, smart routing, better trading tools, lower commissions and financing rates, have embarked upon building such facilities and service enhancements.

In addition, the online brokerage industry exhibits massive opportunities which may attract major internet companies to enter the market by adopting a similar business model, which may significantly affect our market share and sales volume. Major international brokerage companies that have large retail online brokerage businesses as well as online brokerage units of commercial banks may take advantage of their established resources and satisfy applicable regulatory requirements through acquisitions and organic development.

We expect competition to increase in the future as current competitors diversify and improve their offerings and as new participants enter the market. We cannot assure you that we will be able to compete effectively or efficiently with current or future competitors. They may be acquired by, receive investment from or enter into strategic relationships with, established and well-financed companies or investors, which would help enhance their competitiveness. Furthermore, the current competitors and new entrants in the online brokerage industry may also seek to develop new service offerings, technologies or capabilities that could render some of the services that we offer obsolete or less competitive, and some of them may adopt more aggressive pricing policies or devote greater resources to marketing and promotional campaigns than we do. The occurrence of any of these circumstances may hinder our growth and reduce our market share, and thus our business, results of operations, financial condition and prospects would be materially and adversely affected.

 

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If we are unable to retain existing clients or attract new clients to increase their trading volume, or if we fail to offer services to address the needs of our clients as they evolve, our business and results of operations may be materially and adversely affected.

We derive a significant portion of our revenues from our online brokerage services provided to our clients. The trading volume on our platform has grown rapidly over the past few years. The trading transactions we facilitated in 2018 amounted to HK$907.0 billion (US$115.8 billion) in aggregate, representing a 75.1% increase from HK$517.9 billion in aggregate in 2017. Also, our paying clients grew 65.9% from 80,057 as of December 31, 2017 to 132,821 as of December 31, 2018. To maintain the high growth momentum of our platform, we depend on retaining current clients and attracting more new clients. If there is insufficient demand for our online brokerage and margin financing services, we might not be able to maintain and increase our trading volume and revenues as we expect, and our business and results of operations may be adversely affected.

Our success depends largely on our ability to retain existing clients, in particular those that have highly frequent transactions. Our clients may not continue to place trading orders or increase the level of their trading activities on our platform if we cannot match the prices offered by other market players or if we fail to deliver satisfactory services. Failure to deliver services in a timely manner at competitive prices with satisfactory experience will cause our clients to lose confidence in us and use our platform less frequently or even stop using our platform altogether, which in turn will materially and adversely affect our business. Even if we are able to provide high-quality and satisfactory services on our platform in a timely manner and at favorable price terms, we cannot assure you that we will be able to retain existing clients, encourage repeat and increase trading transactions due to reasons out of our control, such as our clients’ personal financial reasons or the deterioration of the capital markets condition.

If we are unable to maintain or increase our client retention rates or generate new clients in a cost-effective manner, our business, financial condition and results of operations would likely be adversely affected. Historically, we incurred HK$59.2 million, HK$41.4 million and HK$98.1 million (US$12.5 million) in selling and marketing expenses, representing 68.0%, 13.3% and 12.1% of our total revenues in 2016, 2017 and 2018, respectively. Although we have spent significant financial resources on marketing expenses and plan to continue to do so, these efforts may not be cost-effective to attract new clients. We cannot assure you that we will be able to maintain or grow our client base in a cost-effective way.

We must stay abreast of the needs and preferences of our clients to serve their evolving trading needs as their investment demands change. If we fail to retain our existing clients by offering services that cater to their evolving investment and trading needs, we may not be able to maintain and continue to grow the trading volume on our platform, and our business and results of operations may be adversely affected. In addition, if we are unable to maintain, enhance or develop the methods we use to retain clients, the costs of client retention will significantly increase, and our ability to retain clients may be harmed.

Similar to other brokerage and financial services providers, we cannot guarantee the profitability of the investment made by clients on our platform. The profitability of our clients’ investment is directly affected by elements beyond our control, such as economic and political conditions, broad trends in business and finance, changes in volume of securities transactions, changes in the markets in which such transactions occur and changes in how such transactions are processed. We provide a social community to facilitate the provision of financial and market information. Although these materials and commentaries contain prominent disclaimers, our clients may seek to hold us responsible when they use such information to make trading decisions and suffer financial loss on their trades, or if their trades are not as profitable as they have expected. Furthermore, it is possible that some clients could solely rely on certain predictive statements made by other clients on our platform, ignoring our alert warnings that clients should make their own investment judgement and should not predict future performance based on historical records. As a result, the financial loss of our clients may affect our performance in terms of transaction volumes and revenues as clients decide to abort trading. In addition, some clients who have suffered substantial losses on our platform may blame our platform, seek to recover their damages from us or bring lawsuits against us.

 

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Because our revenues and profitability depend largely on clients’ trading volume, they are prone to significant fluctuations and are difficult to predict.

Our revenues and profitability depend in part on the level of trading activity of the securities of our clients, which are often affected by factors beyond our control, including economic and political conditions, broad trends in business and finance and changes in the markets in which such transactions occur. Weaknesses in the markets in which we operate, including economic slowdowns, have historically resulted in reduced trading volumes for us. Declines in trading volumes generally result in lower revenues from transaction execution activities. Lower levels of volatility generally have the same directional impact. Declines in market values of securities or other financial instruments can also result in illiquid markets, which can also result in lower revenues and profitability from transaction execution activities. Lower price levels of securities and other financial instruments, as well as compressed bid/ask spreads, which often follow lower pricing, can further result in reduced revenues and profitability. These factors can also increase the potential for losses on securities or other financial instruments held in inventory and failures of buyers and sellers to fulfill their obligations and settle their trades, as well as claims and litigation. Any of the foregoing factors could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.

Our business is also subject to general economic and political conditions, in particular the economic and political conditions in Hong Kong, the PRC and the United States, such as macroeconomic and monetary policies, legislation and regulations affecting the financial and securities industries, upward and downward trends in the business and financial sectors, inflation, currency fluctuations, availability of short-term and long-term funding sources, cost of funding and the level and volatility of interest rates. For example, a drop in the capital markets performance as a result of the ongoing trade disputes between China and the United States could negatively impact our revenues and profitability. As a result of these risks, our income and operating results may be subject to significant fluctuations.

Our current level of commission and fee rates may decline in the future. Any material reduction in our commission or fee rates could reduce our profitability.

We derive a significant portion of our revenues from commissions and fees paid by our clients for trading securities through our platform. In 2016, 2017 and 2018, our brokerage commission income and handling charge income amounted to HK$74.5 million, HK$184.9 million and HK$408.0 million (US$52.1 million), representing 85.6%, 59.3% and 50.3% of our total revenues during the same years, respectively. We may experience pressure on our commission or fee rates as a result of competition we face in the online brokerage service industry. Some of our competitors offer a broader range of services to a larger client base, and enjoy higher trading volumes, than we do. Consequently, our competitors may be able and willing to offer trading services at lower commission or fee rates than we currently offer or may be able to offer. For example, some banks in Hong Kong and the United States have started to offer zero commission fees or similar policies to attract securities investors. As a result of this pricing competition, we could lose both market share and revenues. We believe that any downward pressure on commission or fee rates would likely continue and intensify as we continue to develop our business and gain recognition in our markets. A decline in our commission or fee rates could lower our revenues, which would adversely affect our profitability. In addition, our competitors may offer other financial incentives such as rebates or discounts in order to induce trading in their systems rather than in ours. If our commission or fee rate decreases significantly, our operating and financial results may be materially and adversely affected.

Fluctuations in market interest rates may negatively affect our financial condition and results of operations.

We derive a part of our revenues from charging interests on margin balances in connection with our margin financing and security lending businesses. In 2016, 2017 and 2018, our revenues from interest income derived from our margin financing and securities lending businesses amounted to HK$1.8 million, HK$65.5 million and HK$226.1 million (US$28.9 million), representing 2.0%, 21.0% and 27.9% of our total revenues during the same years, respectively. For the same years, our interest income derived from bank deposits were HK$4.0 million,

 

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HK$34.1 million and HK$123.8 million (US$15.8 million) , representing 4.6%, 10.9% and 15.3% of our total revenues during the same years, respectively. The trend of the level of interest rates is an important factor affecting our earnings. A decline in interest rates may have a negative impact on our interest income and thus ultimately adversely impact our total revenues. While we generally derive higher interest income when there is an increase in market interest rates, a rise in interest rates may also cause our interest expenses to increase. If we are unable to effectively manage our interest rate risk, changes in interest rates could have a material adverse effect on our profitability.

Although our management believes that it has implemented effective management strategies to reduce the potential effects of changes in interest rates on our results of operations, any substantial, unexpected or prolonged change in market interest rates could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations. Also, our interest rate risk modeling techniques and assumptions likely may not fully predict or capture the impact of actual interest rate changes on our balance sheet. For further discussion of how changes in interest rates could impact us, see “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures about Market Risk—Interest Rate Risk” of this prospectus.

We may not be able to develop our margin financing and securities lending business as expected and may be exposed to credit risks related to these businesses. In addition, we need adequate funding at reasonable costs to successfully operate our margin financing business, and access to adequate funding at reasonable costs cannot be assured.

Our margin financing and securities lending businesses may not develop as expected if clients fail to perform contractual obligations or the value of collateral held to secure the obligations is inadequate. We have adopted comprehensive internal policies and procedures designed to manage such risks. For example, once the margin value falls below the outstanding amount of the relevant loan extended as a result of a market downturn or adverse movement in the prices of the pledged securities, we will make a margin call requesting the client to deposit additional funds, sell securities or pledge additional securities to top up their margin value. If the client’s margin value still falls below the required standard, we will initiate our liquidation protection mechanism on a real-time basis to bring the client’s account into margin compliance. Nevertheless, we cannot assure you that we will not be exposed to any credit risks associated with our margin financing and securities lending businesses. See “—Our risk management policies and procedures may not be fully effective in identifying or mitigating risk exposure in all market environments or against all types of risks.”

Moreover, the growth and success of our margin financing business depend on the availability of adequate funding to meet our client demand for loans on our platform. We derive the funding for our margin financing business from a variety of sources, including funding secured from commercial banks, other licensed financial institutions and other parties as well as financing generated from our business operations. To the extent there is insufficient funding from institutional funding partners who are willing to accept the credit risk related to the collateral from our clients, the funds available for our margin financing business might be limited and our ability to provide margin financing services to our clients to address their demand for loans would be adversely impacted. In addition, as we strive to offer our clients competitively priced services and the online brokerage market is intensely competitive, we may attempt to further reduce our interest expenses from our funding partners. If we cannot continue to maintain our relationship with these funding partners and obtain adequate funding at reasonable costs, we may not be able to continue to offer or grow our margin financing business. To the extent that our funding partners find the risk-adjusted returns with us less attractive, we may not be able to obtain the requisite level of funding at reasonable costs, or at all. If our platform is unable to provide our clients with margin loans or fund the loans on a timely basis due to insufficient funding or less favorable pricing compared to those of our competitors, it would harm our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

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If we fail to respond in a timely and cost-effective manner to the needs of our users and clients or if our new service offerings do not achieve sufficient market acceptance, our business and results of operations may be materially and adversely affected.

Our future success will depend partially on our ability to develop and introduce new service offerings to respond to the evolving needs of our users and clients in a timely and cost-effective manner. We provide services in markets that are characterized by rapid technological change, evolving industry standards, frequent new service introductions, and increasing demand for higher levels of client experience. In recent years, we have expanded our service offerings for our users and clients from online brokerage services to margin financing services and further to other ancillary tools and functions and may continue to expand our new service offerings in the future. However, we have limited experience in new service offerings, and expansion into new service offerings may involve new risks and challenges that we may not have experienced before. We cannot assure you that we will be able to overcome such new risks and challenges and make our new service offerings successful. Initial timetables for the introduction and development of new service offerings may not be achieved and profitability targets may not prove feasible. External factors, such as compliance with regulations, competition and shifting market preferences, may also impact the successful implementation of our new service offerings. Our personnel and technology systems may fail to adapt to the changes in such new areas or we may fail to effectively integrate new services into our existing operation. We may lack experience in managing our new service offerings. In addition, we may be unable to proceed our operation as planned or compete effectively due to different competitive landscapes in these new areas. Even if we expand our businesses into new jurisdictions or areas, the expansion may not yield intended profitable results. Furthermore, any new service offerings could have a significant impact on the effectiveness of our internal control system. Failure to successfully manage these risks in the development and implementation of new service offerings could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.

Our ability to anticipate and identify the evolving needs of our users and clients and to develop and introduce new service offerings to address such needs will be a significant factor in maintaining or improving our competitive position and prospects for growth. We may also have to incur substantial unanticipated costs to maintain and further strengthen such ability. Our success will also depend on our ability to develop and introduce new services and enhance existing services for our users and clients in a timely manner. Even if we introduce new and enhanced services to the market, they may not achieve market acceptance.

We believe that we must continue to make investments to support ongoing research and development in order to develop new or enhanced service offerings to remain competitive. We need to continue to develop and introduce new services that incorporate the latest technological advancements in response to evolving user and client needs. Our business and results of operations could be adversely affected if we do not anticipate or respond adequately to technological developments or the changing needs of our users and clients. We cannot assure you that any such investments in research and development will lead to any corresponding increase in revenue.

We depend on our proprietary technology, and our future results may be impacted if we cannot maintain technological superiority in our industry.

Our success in the past has largely been attributable to our sophisticated proprietary technology that has empowered the efficient operations of our platform. We have benefited from the fact that the type of proprietary technology equivalent to which we employ has not been widely available to our competitors. If our technology becomes more widely available to our current or future competitors for any reason, our operating results may be adversely affected.

Additionally, to keep pace with changing technologies and client demands, we must correctly interpret and address market trends and enhance the features and functionality of our technology in response to these trends, which may lead to significant research and development costs. We may be unable to accurately determine the needs of our users and clients or the trends in the online brokerage industry or to design and implement the

 

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appropriate features and functionality of our technology in a timely and cost-effective manner, which could result in decreased demand for our services and a corresponding decrease in our revenue. Also, any adoption or development of similar or more advanced technologies by our competitors may require that we devote substantial resources to the development of more advanced technology to remain competitive. The markets in which we compete are characterized by rapidly changing technology, evolving industry standards and changing trading systems, practices and techniques. Although we have been at the forefront of many of these developments in the past, we may not be able to keep up with these rapid changes in the future, develop new technology, realize a return on amounts invested in developing new technologies or remain competitive in the future.

In addition, we must protect our systems against physical damage from fire, earthquakes, power loss, telecommunications failures, computer viruses, hacker attacks, physical break-ins and similar events. Any software or hardware damage or failure that causes interruption or an increase in response time of our proprietary technology could reduce client satisfaction and decrease usage of our services.

Unexpected network interruptions, security breaches or computer virus attacks and failures in our information technology systems could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Our information technology systems support all phases of our operations and are an essential part of our technology infrastructure. If our systems fail to perform, we could experience disruptions in operations, slower response time or decreased customer satisfaction. We must process, record and monitor a large number of transactions and our operations are highly dependent on the integrity of our technology systems and our ability to make timely enhancements and additions to our systems. System interruptions, errors or downtime can result from a variety of causes, including unexpected interruptions to the internet infrastructure, technological failures, changes to our systems, changes in customer usage patterns, linkages with third-party systems and power failures. Our systems are also vulnerable to disruptions from human error, execution errors, errors in models such as those used for risk management and compliance, employee misconduct, unauthorized trading, external fraud, computer viruses, distributed denial of service attacks, computer viruses or cyberattacks, terrorist attacks, natural disaster, power outage, capacity constraints, software flaws, events impacting our key business partners and vendors, and other similar events.

Our internet-based business depends on the performance and reliability of the internet infrastructure. We cannot assure you that the internet infrastructure we depend on will remain sufficiently reliable for our needs. Any failure to maintain the performance, reliability, security or availability of our network infrastructure may cause significant damage to our ability to attract and retain users and clients. Major risks involving our network infrastructure include:

 

   

breakdowns or system failures resulting in a prolonged shutdown of our servers;

 

   

disruption or failure in the national backbone networks in China, which would make it impossible for users and clients to access our online and mobile platforms;

 

   

damage from natural disasters or other catastrophic events such as typhoon, volcanic eruption, earthquake, flood, telecommunications failure, or other similar events; and

 

   

any infection by or spread of computer viruses or other system failures.

Any network interruption or inadequacy that causes interruptions in the availability of our online and mobile platforms or deterioration in the quality of access to our online and mobile platforms could reduce user and client satisfaction and result in a reduction in the activity level of our users and clients as well as the number of clients making trading transactions on our platform. Furthermore, increases in the volume of traffic on our online and mobile platforms could strain the capacity of our existing computer systems and bandwidth, which could lead to slower response times or system failures. This could cause a disruption or suspension in our service delivery, which could hurt our brand and reputation. We may need to incur additional costs to upgrade our technology

 

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infrastructure and computer systems in order to accommodate increased demand if we anticipate that our systems cannot handle higher volumes of traffic and transaction in the future. In addition, it could take an extended period of time to restore full functionality to our technology or other operating systems in the event of an unforeseen occurrence, which could affect our ability to process and settle client transactions. Despite our efforts to identify areas of risk, oversee operational areas involving risks, and implement policies and procedures designed to manage these risks, there can be no assurance that we will not suffer unexpected losses, reputational damage or regulatory actions due to technology or other operational failures or errors, including those of our vendors or other third parties.

Failure or poor performance of third-party software, infrastructure or systems on which we rely could adversely affect our business.

We rely on third parties to provide and maintain certain infrastructure that is critical to our business. For example, a strategic partner provides services to us in connection with various aspects of our operations and systems. If such services become limited, restricted, curtailed or less effective or more expensive in any way or become unavailable to us for any reason, our business may be materially and adversely affected. The infrastructure of our third-party service providers may malfunction or fail due to events out of our control, which could disrupt our operations and have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows. Any failure to maintain and renew our relationships with these third parties on commercially favorable terms, or to enter into similar relationships in the future, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.

We also rely on certain third-party software, third-party computer systems and service providers, including clearing systems, exchange systems, alternate trading systems, order-routing systems, internet service providers, communications facilities and other facilities. Any interruption in these third-party services or software, deterioration in their performance, or other improper operation could interfere with our trading activities, cause losses due to erroneous or delayed responses, or otherwise be disruptive to our business. If our arrangements with any third party are terminated, we may not be able to find an alternative source of software or systems support on a timely basis or on commercially reasonable terms. This could also have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.

We rely on a number of external service providers for certain key market information and data, technology, processing and supporting functions.

We rely on a number of external service providers for certain key market information and data, technology, processing and supporting functions. Furthermore, external content providers provide us with financial information, market news, charts, option and stock quotes and other fundamental data that we offer to our clients and users. These service providers face technical, operational and security risks of their own. Any significant failures by them, including improper use or disclosure of our confidential client, employee or company information, could interrupt our business, cause us to incur losses and harm our reputation. Particularly, we have contracted with affiliates of Nasdaq and Hong Kong Exchange and Clearing Limited and a few other institutions to allow our clients to access real-time market information data, which are essential for our clients to make their investment decisions and take actions. Any failure of such information providers to update or deliver the data in a timely and accurate manner as provided in the agreements could lead to potential losses of our clients, which will in turn affect our business operations and reputation.

We cannot assure you that the external service providers will be able to continue to provide these services to meet our current needs in an efficient and cost-effective manner, or that they will be able to adequately expand their services to meet our needs in the future. Some external service providers have assets that are important to the services they provide us located outside the United States, and their ability to provide these services is subject to risks from unfavorable political, economic, legal or other developments, such as social or political instability, changes in governmental policies or changes in the applicable laws and regulations.

 

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An interruption in or the cessation of service by any external service provider as a result of system failures, capacity constraints, financial constraints or problems, unanticipated trading market closures or for any other reason and our inability to make alternative arrangements in a smooth and timely manner, if at all, could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.

Further, disputes might arise out of or in connection with the agreements regarding our or the service providers’ performance of the obligations thereunder. To the extent that any service provider disagrees with us on the quality of the products or services, terms and conditions of the payment or other provisions of such agreements, we may face claims, disputes, litigations or other proceedings initiated by such service provider against us. We may incur substantial expenses and require significant attention of management in defending against these claims, regardless of their merit. We could also face damages to our reputation as a result of such claims, and our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects could be materially and adversely affected.

If major mobile application distribution channels change their standard terms and conditions in a manner that is detrimental to us, or terminate their existing relationship with us, our business, financial condition and results of operations may be materially and adversely affected.

We currently rely on Apple’s app store, Google’s Play Store and major PRC-based Android app stores to distribute our mobile applications to users. As such, the promotion, distribution and operation of our application are subject to such distribution platforms’ standard terms and policies for application developers, which are subject to the interpretation of, and frequent changes by, these distribution channels. If these third-party distribution platforms change their terms and conditions in a manner that is detrimental to us, or refuse to distribute our application, or if any other major distribution channel with which we would like to seek collaboration refuses to collaborate with us in the future, our business, financial condition and results of operations may be materially and adversely affected.

If we fail to protect our platform or the confidential information of our users and clients, whether due to cyber-attacks, computer viruses, physical or electronic break-ins or other reasons, we may be subject to liabilities imposed by relevant laws and regulations, and our reputation and business may be materially and adversely affected.

Our computer system, the networks we use, the networks and online trading platforms of the exchanges and other third parties with whom we interact, are potentially vulnerable to physical or electronic computer break-ins, viruses and similar disruptive problems or security breaches. A party that is able to circumvent our security measures could misappropriate proprietary information or customer information, jeopardize the confidential nature of the information we transmit over the Internet and mobile network or cause interruptions in our operations. We or our service providers may be required to invest significant resources to protect against the threat of security breaches or to alleviate problems caused by any breaches.

In addition, we collect, store and process certain personal and other sensitive data from our users and clients, which makes us a potentially vulnerable target to cyber-attacks, computer viruses, physical or electronic break-ins or similar disruptions. While we have taken steps to protect the confidential information that we have access to, our security measures could be breached. Because the techniques used to sabotage or obtain unauthorized access to systems change frequently and generally are not recognized until they are launched against a target, we may not be able to anticipate these techniques or implement adequate preventative measures. Any accidental or willful security breaches or other unauthorized access to our system could cause confidential user and client information to be stolen and used for criminal purposes. Security breaches or unauthorized access to confidential information could also expose us to liability related to the loss of the information, time-consuming and expensive litigation and negative publicity. We have not experienced any material cyber-security breaches or been subject to any material breaches of any of our cyber-security measures in the past. If security measures are breached because of third-party action, employee error, malfeasance or otherwise, or if design flaws in our

 

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technology infrastructure are exposed and exploited, our relationships with users and clients could be severely damaged, we could incur significant liability and our business and operations could be adversely affected. Furthermore, our corporate clients may utilize our technology to serve their own employees and customers. Any failure or perceived failure by us to prevent information security breaches or to comply with privacy policies or privacy-related legal obligations, or any compromise of security that results in the unauthorized release or transfer of personally identifiable information or other customer data, could cause our clients to lose trust in us and could expose us to legal claims.

We are subject to governmental regulation and other legal obligations related to the protection of personal data, privacy and information security in the regions where we do business, and there has been and may continue to be a significant increase in such laws that restrict or control the use of personal data. See “Regulations—Overview of the Laws and Regulations Relating to Our Business and Operations in China—Regulations on Cybersecurity and Privacy.” In China, the Cyber Security Law became effective in June 2017 and requires network operators to follow the principles of legitimacy in collecting and using personal information. In addition, the Personal Information Security Specification, or China Specification, came into force on May 1, 2018. Although the China Specification is not a mandatory regulation, it nonetheless has a key implementing role in relation to China’s Cyber Security Law in respect to protecting personal information in China. Furthermore, it is likely that the China Specification will be relied on by Chinese government agencies as a standard to determine whether businesses have abided by China’s data protection rules. Furthermore, under the China Specification, the data controller must provide the purpose of collecting and using subject personal information, as well as the business functions of such purpose, and the China Specification requires the data controller to distinguish its core function from additional functions to ensure the data controller will only collect personal information as needed. Similarly, Hong Kong also has its data privacy legislation that regulates the collection, use and handling of personal data. Under the relevant legislation, data users are required to comply with various data protection principles in relation to the requirement of lawful and fair collection of personal data, consent of data subjects, retention of personal data, use and disclosure of personal data, security of personal data, personal data policies and practices, and rights to access and correction of personal data.

There are uncertainties as to the interpretation and application of laws in one jurisdiction which may be interpreted and applied in a manner inconsistent to another jurisdiction and may conflict with our current policies and practices or require changes to the features of our system. We cannot assure that our existing user information protection system and technical measures will be considered sufficient under applicable laws and regulations. If we are unable to address any information protection concerns, any compromise of security that results unauthorized disclosure or transfer of personal data, or to comply with the then applicable laws and regulations, we may incur additional costs and liability and result in governmental enforcement actions, litigation, fines and penalties or adverse publicity and could cause our users and clients to lose trust in us, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, financial condition and prospects. We may also be subject to new laws, regulations or standards or new interpretations of existing laws, regulations or standards, including those in the areas of data security and data privacy, which could require us to incur additional costs and restrict our business operations.

We have not obtained certain relevant licenses from PRC authorities in connection with some of the information and services available on our platform.

PRC regulations impose sanctions for engaging in disseminating analysis, forecasting, advisory or other information related to securities and securities markets without having obtained the Securities Investment Consultancy Qualifications in China. See “Regulation—Overview of the Laws and Regulations Relating to Our Business and Operations in China—Regulations on the Securities Investment Consulting Service.” We have not obtained the Securities Investment Consultancy Qualifications in China. Without the required qualifications, we should refrain from as well as explicitly prohibit our users from sharing information related to securities analysis, forecasting or advisory on our platform. However, we cannot assure you that our users will not post articles or share videos that contain analysis, forecasting or advisory content related to securities on our platform. If any of

 

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the information or content displayed on our platform is deemed as analysis, forecasting, advisory or other information related to securities or securities markets, or any of our business in the PRC is deemed to be a service providing such information, we may be subject to regulatory measures including warnings, public condemnation, suspension of relevant business and other measures in accordance with applicable laws and regulations. Any such penalties may disrupt our business operations or materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

In addition, as part of our services, we allow users who register to be hosts to upload and share videos, in our NiuNiu Classroom, a video-based investor education program that offers basics on the Hong Kong and the U.S. securities markets. According to the PRC Administrative Provisions on Internet Audio-Video Program Services, the provider of audio-video service, such as NiuNiu Classroom, is required to obtain the Audio and Video Service Permission. See “Regulation—Overview of the Laws and Regulations Relating to Our Business and Operations in China—Regulation on Internet Audio-Visual Program Services.” We have not obtained such license for providing internet audio-video program services through our platform in China and may not be able to obtain such license in a timely manner, or at all. We have not received any notices nor have we been subject to regulatory measures from the National Radio and Television Administration as of the date of this prospectus. However, if we are required to obtain an Audio and Video Service Permission or other additional licenses or approvals in connection with our video-based services in China, we may be subject to various penalties, such as confiscation of the net revenues that were generated through the unlicensed internet activities, imposition of fines and termination or restriction of such service offering.

Furthermore, PRC regulations require platforms that disseminate internet news and information services to obtain the License for Internet News Information Services. See “Regulation—Overview of the Laws and Regulations Relating to Our Business and Operations in China—Regulation on Internet News Dissemination.” We have not obtained such license and may not be able to obtain such license in a timely manner, or at all. As our platform displays news and information related to the financial market, we may be deemed as engaging in disseminating news and information through the internet and subject to penalties including imposition of fines and termination or restriction of such service offering. In addition, the PRC government may impose specific requirement on financial information services, which may also affect our business and operations.

PRC laws and regulations are evolving, and there are uncertainties relating to the regulation of different aspects of the services we provide through our platforms in China. We cannot assure you that we will not be found in violation of any future laws and regulations or any of the laws and regulations currently in effect due to changes in or discrepancies with respect to the relevant authorities’ interpretation of these laws and regulations. In addition, we may be required to obtain additional license or approvals, and we cannot assure you that we will be able to timely obtain or maintain all the required licenses or approvals or make all the necessary filings in the future.

Employee misconduct could expose us to significant legal liability and reputational harm.

We operate in an industry in which integrity and the confidence of our users and clients are of critical importance. During our daily operations, we are subject to the risks of errors and misconduct by our employees, which include:

 

   

engaging in misrepresentation or fraudulent activities when marketing or performing online brokerage and other services to users and clients;

 

   

improperly using or disclosing confidential information of our users and clients or other parties;

 

   

concealing unauthorized or unsuccessful activities; or

 

   

otherwise not complying with applicable laws and regulations or our internal policies or procedures.

If any of our employees engages in illegal or suspicious activities or other misconduct, we could suffer serious harm to our reputation, financial condition, client relationships and ability to attract new clients and even

 

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be subject to regulatory sanctions and significant legal liability. For example, a current employee of ours was previously investigated and imposed a regulatory sanction by the HK SFC due to certain misconduct in violation of regulatory rules that he committed when he worked for his former employer. Although such incident occurred before the employee joined our company and is unrelated to us, the sanction was imposed against such employee during his employment with us and his ability to perform certain regulated functions at his current employment with us was temporary impaired due to the sanction. We may also be subject to negative publicity from the sanction that would adversely affect our brand, public image and reputation, as well as potential challenges, suspicions, investigations or alleged claims against us. It is not always possible to deter misconduct by our employees or senior management during the ongoing operations of our business or uncover any misconduct occurred in their past employment, and the precautions we take to detect and prevent any misconduct may not always be effective. Misconduct by our employees, or even unsubstantiated allegations of misconduct, could result in a material adverse effect on our reputation and our business.

Any future change in the regulatory and legal regime for the securities brokerage industry may have a significant impact on our business model.

Firms in the securities brokerage industry have been subject to an increasingly regulated environment over recent years, and penalties and fines sought by regulatory authorities have also increased. This regulatory and enforcement environment has created uncertainties with respect to various types of products and services that historically had been offered by us and that were generally believed to be permissible and appropriate. Legislative changes in rules promulgated by government agencies and self-regulatory organizations in various jurisdictions that oversee our businesses and changes in the interpretation or enforcement of existing laws and rules, such as the potential imposition of transaction taxes, may directly affect our model of operation and profitability.

We had incurred net losses in the past, and we may continue to incur losses in the future.

In 2016 and 2017, we had net losses of HK$98.5 million and HK$8.1 million, respectively. Although we have become profitable since 2018, we cannot assure you that we continue to be profitable in the future. We anticipate that our operating costs and expenses will increase in the foreseeable future as we continue to grow our business, attract users and clients, further enhance and develop our service offerings, enhance our technology capabilities and increase our brand recognition. These efforts may prove more costly than we currently anticipate, and we may not succeed in increasing our revenues sufficiently to offset these higher expenses. There are other external and internal factors that could negatively affect our financial condition. For example, the trading volume achieved on our platform may be lower than expected, which may lead to lower than expected revenues. Furthermore, we have adopted a share incentive plan in the past and may adopt new share incentive plans in the future, which have caused, and will result in, significant share-based compensation expenses to us. We generate a substantial majority of our total revenues from commission fees charged to clients who trade on our platform. Any material decrease in our commission fees would have a substantial impact on our financial conditions. As a result of the foregoing and other factors, we may continue to incur net losses in the future.

If there is any negative publicity with respect to us, our industry peers or our industries in general, our business and results of operations may be materially and adversely affected.

Our reputation and brand recognition plays an important role in earning and maintaining the trust and confidence of high net worth individuals or enterprises that are current or potential users and clients. Our reputation and brand are vulnerable to many threats that can be difficult or impossible to control, and costly or impossible to remediate. Regulatory inquiries or investigations, lawsuits initiated by clients or other third parties, employee misconduct, perceptions of conflicts of interest and rumors, among other things, could substantially damage our reputation, even if they are baseless or satisfactorily addressed. In addition, any perception that the quality of our online brokerage and other financial services may not be the same as or better than that of other online brokerage and financial service firms can also damage our reputation. Moreover, any negative media

 

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publicity about the financial service industry in general or product or service quality problems of other firms in the industry, including our competitors, may also negatively impact our reputation and brand. If we are unable to maintain a good reputation or further enhance our brand recognition, our ability to attract and retain users, clients, third-party partners and key employees could be harmed and, as a result, our business and revenues would be materially and adversely affected.

We may not succeed in promoting and sustaining our brand, which could have an adverse effect on our future growth and business.

A critical component of our future growth is our ability to promote and sustain our brand. Promoting and positioning our brand and platform will depend largely on the success of our marketing efforts, our ability to attract users and clients cost-efficiently and our ability to consistently provide high-quality services and a superior experience. We have incurred and will continue to incur significant expenses related to advertising and other marketing efforts, which may not be effective and may adversely affect our net margins.

In addition, to provide a high-quality user and client experience, we have invested and will continue to invest substantial amounts of resources in the development and functionality of our platform, website, technology infrastructure and client service operations. Our ability to provide a high-quality user and client experience is also highly dependent on external factors over which we may have little or no control, including, without limitation, the reliability and performance of software vendors and business partners. Failure to provide our users and clients with high quality services and experience for any reason could substantially harm our reputation and adversely impact our efforts to develop a trusted brand, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, financial condition and prospects.

Fraudulent or illegal activities on our platform could negatively impact our brand and reputation and cause the loss of users and clients. As a result, our business may be materially and adversely affected.

We have implemented stringent internal control policies, insider trading, anti-money laundering and other anti-fraud rules and mechanisms on our platform. Nevertheless, we remain subject to the risk of fraudulent or illegal activities both on our platform and associated with our users and clients, funding and other business partners, and third parties handling user and client information. Our resources, technologies and fraud detection tools may be insufficient to accurately detect and prevent fraudulent or illegal activities. Significant increases in fraudulent or illegal activities could negatively impact our brand and reputation, reduce the trading volume on our platform and therefore harm our operating and financial results. For example, the HK SFC has in the past issued restriction notices to brokers, including us, to prohibit order placing in certain client accounts linked to suspected market misconduct. Any misbehavior of or violation by our clients of applicable laws and regulations could lead to regulatory inquiries and investigations that involve us, which may affect our business operation and prospects. We might also incur higher costs than expected in order to take additional steps to reduce risks related to fraudulent and illegal activities. High-profile fraudulent or illegal activities could also lead to regulatory intervention, and may divert our management’s attention and cause us to incur additional regulatory and litigation expenses and costs. In addition, we could suffer serious harm to our reputation, financial condition, client relationships and ability to attract new clients and even be subject to regulatory sanctions and significant legal liability, if any of our employees engages in illegal or suspicious activities or other misconduct. See “—Employee misconduct could expose us to significant legal liability and reputational harm.” Although we have not experienced any material business or reputational harm as a result of fraudulent or illegal activities in the past, we cannot rule out the possibility that any of the foregoing may occur causing harm to our business or reputation in the future. If any of the foregoing were to occur, our results of operations and financial conditions could be materially and adversely affected.

 

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We face risks related to our “know-your-client” procedures when our clients provide outdated, inaccurate, false or misleading information.

We collect personal information during the account opening and registration process and screen accounts against public databases for purposes of verifying client identity and detecting risks. Although we require our clients to submit documents for proof of their identity and address for completing the account registration and to update such information from time to time, we face risks as the information provided by our clients may be outdated, inaccurate, false or misleading. Despite we have appropriate ongoing monitoring procedures in place to keep customer information up to date pursuant to applicable regulatory requirements, we cannot fully verify the accuracy, currency and completeness of such information beyond reasonable effort. For example, a large number of our clients are holders of the PRC identity cards. As the PRC identity cards are usually effective for more than ten years or some may have no expiration term, some clients may have changed their domicile or citizenship during the terms of their PRC identity cards and therefore be subject to applicable laws and regulations of jurisdictions other than the PRC. In this situation, our provision of products and services to such clients could be in violation of the applicable laws and regulations in the jurisdictions where those clients reside, of which we may have no awareness until we are warned by the relevant supervising authorities. We could still be subject to certain legal or regulatory sanctions, fines or penalties, financial loss, or damage to reputation resulting from such violations.

Our platform and internal systems rely on software and technological infrastructure that is highly technical, and if they contain undetected errors, our business could be adversely affected.

Our platform and internal systems rely on software that is highly technical and complex. In addition, our platform and internal systems depend on the ability of the software to store, retrieve, process and manage immense amounts of data. The software on which we rely has contained, and may now or in the future contain, undetected errors or bugs. Some errors may only be discovered after the code has been released for external or internal use. Errors or other design defects within the software on which we rely may result in a negative experience for users and financial service providers, delay introductions of new features or enhancements, result in errors or compromise our ability to protect data or our intellectual property. Any errors, bugs or defects discovered in the software on which we rely could result in harm to our reputation, loss of users or financial service providers or liability for damages, any of which could adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial conditions.

A significant decrease in our liquidity could negatively affect our business and financial management as well as reduce client confidence in our company.

Maintaining adequate liquidity is crucial to our business operations. We meet our liquidity needs primarily through cash generated by client trading activities and operating earnings, as well as cash provided by external financing. Fluctuations in client cash or deposit balances, as well as changes in regulatory treatment of client deposits or market conditions, may affect our ability to meet our liquidity needs. A reduction in our liquidity position could reduce our users’ and clients’ confidence, which could result in the loss of client trading accounts, or could cause us to fail to satisfy our liquidity requirements. In addition, if we fail to meet regulatory capital guidelines, regulators could limit our operations.

Factors which may adversely affect our liquidity position include having temporary liquidity demands due to timing differences between brokerage transaction settlements and the availability of segregated cash balances, unanticipated outflows of company cash, fluctuations in cash held in banking or brokerage client trading accounts, a dramatic increase in clients’ margin-financing activities, increased capital requirements, changes in regulatory guidance or interpretations, other regulatory changes, or a loss of market or client confidence.

If cash generated by client trading activities and operating earnings is not sufficient for our liquidity needs, we may be forced to seek external financing. During periods of disruptions in the credit and capital markets, potential sources of external financing could be reduced, and borrowing costs could increase. Financing may not be available on acceptable terms, or at all, due to market conditions or disruptions in the credit markets. If we experience any significant decrease in our liquidity, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be adversely impacted.

 

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A significant change in clients’ cash allocations could negatively impact our net interest revenues and financial results.

We derive interest income from depositing un-invested cash balances in our clients’ brokerage trading accounts opened with us at our bank partners. In 2016, 2017 and 2018, we generated HK$4.0 million, HK$34.1 million and HK$123.8 million (US$15.8 million) interest income from bank deposit, respectively, a significant portion of which was derived from uninvested cash balances in our clients’ accounts. As a result, a significant reduction in our clients’ allocation to cash, a change in the allocation of that cash, or a transfer of cash out of their accounts on our platform could reduce our interest income and our financial results.

Our clearing operations expose us to liability for errors in clearing functions.

Our HK SFC-licensed subsidiary, Futu Securities International (Hong Kong) Limited, or Futu International Hong Kong, provides clearing and execution services for our brokerage business involving securities listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange or qualified under the Hong Kong, Shanghai and Shenzhen Stock Connect. Clearing and execution services include the confirmation, receipt, settlement, delivery and record-keeping functions involved in securities transactions. Clearing brokers also assume direct responsibility for the possession or control of client securities and other assets and the clearing of client securities transactions. However, clearing brokers also must rely on third-party clearing organizations, such as Hong Kong’s Central Clearing and Settlement System, or CCASS, in settling client securities transactions. Clearing securities firms, such as Futu International Hong Kong, are subject to substantially more regulatory control and examination than introducing brokers who rely on others to perform clearing functions. Errors in performing clearing functions, including clerical and other errors related to the handling of funds and securities held by us on behalf of clients, could lead to regulatory fines and civil penalties as well as losses and liability in related legal proceedings brought by clients and others.

Our corporate actions will be substantially controlled by our founder, chairman and chief executive officer, Mr. Leaf Hua Li, who will have the ability to control or exert significant influence over important corporate matters that require approval of shareholders, which may deprive you of an opportunity to receive a premium for your ADSs and materially reduce the value of your investment.

Immediately following this offering, Mr. Leaf Hua Li, our founder, chairman and chief executive officer, will beneficially own approximately 45.4% of our outstanding shares or 71.9% of the total voting power of our outstanding shares, assuming the underwriters do not exercise their option to purchase additional ADS. Accordingly, Mr. Li will have significant influence in determining the outcome of any corporate transaction or other matter submitted to the shareholders for approval, including mergers, consolidations, election of directors and other significant corporate actions. This concentration of ownership may also discourage, delay or prevent a change in control of our company, which could deprive our shareholders of an opportunity to receive a premium for their shares as part of a sale of our company and might reduce the price of the ADSs. These actions may be taken even if they are opposed by our other shareholders, including those who purchase ADSs in this offering.

Our success depends on the continuing service of our key employees, including our senior management members and other talent, who are highly sought after in the market. If we fail to hire, retain and motivate our key employees, our business may suffer.

Our key executives have substantial experience and have made significant contributions to our business, and our continued success is dependent upon the retention of our key management executives, as well as the services provided by our staff of trading system, technology and programming specialists and a number of other key managerial, marketing, planning, financial, technical and operations personnel. The loss of such key personnel could have a material adverse effect on our business. Growth in our business is dependent, to a large degree, on our ability to retain and attract such employees.

 

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Competition for well-qualified employees in all aspects of our business, including software engineers and other technology professionals, is intense globally. Our continued ability to compete effectively depends on our ability to attract new employees and to retain and motivate existing employees. If we do not succeed in attracting well-qualified employees or retaining and motivating existing employees and key senior management, our business, results of operations, financial condition and prospects may be adversely affected.

Our business growth may be affected by macroeconomic conditions.

The strong growth of China’s offshore investment and wealth management markets in recent years has been mainly driven by the rapid expansion in personal investable assets attributable to the increased number of high net-worth individuals and affluent groups and their increasing demands for geographically diverse investment portfolios. However, slowdowns in the Chinese economy will affect the income growth of such individuals, who are the main investors in the investment and wealth management markets outside China, and add uncertainties to these markets.

In addition, uncertainties about China and global economic conditions and regulatory changes pose a risk as retail investors and businesses may postpone spending in response to credit constraint, rising unemployment rates, financial market volatility, government austerity programs, negative financial news, declines in income or asset values and/or other factors. These worldwide and regional economic conditions could affect and reduce investment behavior and appetites of retail investors and have a material adverse effect on the demand for our products and services. Demand also could differ materially from our expectations as a result of currency fluctuations. Other factors that could influence worldwide or regional demand include changes in fuel and other energy costs, conditions in the real estate and mortgage markets, unemployment, labor and healthcare costs, access to credit, consumer confidence and other macroeconomic factors. These and other economic factors could materially and adversely affect demand for our products and services. Additionally, continued turbulence in the international markets may adversely affect our ability to access the capital markets to meet liquidity needs.

Any failure to protect our intellectual property could harm our business and competitive position.

We rely primarily on trade secret, contract, copyright, trademark and patent law to protect our proprietary technology. It is possible that third parties may copy or otherwise obtain and use our proprietary technology without authorization or otherwise infringe on our rights. We may not be able to successfully pursue claims for infringement that interfere with our ability to use our technology, website or other relevant intellectual property or have adverse impact on our brand. We cannot assure you that any of our intellectual property rights would not be challenged, invalidated or circumvented, or such intellectual property will be sufficient to provide us with competitive advantages. In addition, other parties may misappropriate our intellectual property rights, which would cause us to suffer economic or reputational damages. Because of the rapid pace of technological change, nor can we assure you that all of our proprietary technologies and similar intellectual property will be patented in a timely or cost-effective manner, or at all. Furthermore, parts of our business rely on technologies developed or licensed by other parties, or co-developed with other parties, and we may not be able to obtain or continue to obtain licenses and technologies from these other parties on reasonable terms, or at all.

We may be subject to intellectual property infringement claims, which may be expensive to defend and disruptive to our business and operations.

Content sourced from third parties is frequently posted on our platform by our employees and users and clients. Although we follow common content management and review practices to monitor the content uploaded to our platform, we may not be able to identify all content that may infringe on third-party rights. We cannot be certain that information posted on our platform and other aspects of our business do not or will not infringe upon or otherwise violate trademarks, copyrights, know-how, proprietary technologies or other intellectual property rights held by other parties. We may be from time to time in the future be subject to legal proceedings and claims relating to the intellectual property rights of others. In addition, there may be other parties’ trademarks, copyrights, know-how, proprietary technologies or other intellectual property rights that are infringed by our platform or services or other aspects of our business without our knowledge. Holders of such intellectual

 

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property rights may seek to enforce such intellectual property rights against us in China, Hong Kong, the United States or other jurisdictions. If any infringement claims are brought against us, we may be forced to divert management’s time and other resources from our business and operations to defend against these claims, regardless of their merits.

We may be held liable for information or content displayed on, retrieved from or linked to our platform, which may materially and adversely affect our business and operating results.

The PRC government has adopted regulations governing internet access and distribution of information over the internet. Under these regulations, internet content providers and internet publishers are prohibited from posting or displaying over the internet content that, among other things, violates PRC laws and regulations, impairs public interest or the national dignity of China, contains terrorism, extremism, or content of force or brutality, or is reactionary, obscene, superstitious, fraudulent or defamatory. Failure to comply with these requirements may result in the revocation of licenses to provide internet content and other licenses, the closure of the concerned websites and criminal liabilities. In the past, failure to comply with these requirements has resulted in the closure of certain websites. The website operator may also be held liable for the censored information displayed on or linked to the website.

In particular, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has published regulations that subject website operators to potential liability for content displayed on their websites and the actions of users and others using their systems, including liability for violations of PRC laws and regulations prohibiting the dissemination of content deemed to be socially destabilizing. The Ministry of Public Security has the authority to order any local internet service provider to block any internet website at its sole discretion, or to stop the dissemination over the internet of information which it believes to be socially destabilizing. Furthermore, we are required to report any suspicious content to relevant governmental authorities, and to undergo computer security inspections. If it is found that we fail to implement the relevant safeguards against security breaches, our business in China may be shut down.

According to the Administrative Provisions on Mobile Internet Applications Information Services which was promulgated by the Cyberspace Administration of China and became effective in August 2016, providers of mobile apps shall not create, copy, publish or distribute information and content through mobile applications that is prohibited by laws and regulations. We are required to adopt and implement management systems of information security and establish and improve procedures on content examination and administration. We must adopt such measures as warning, restricted release, suspension of updates and closing of accounts, keep relevant records, and report unlawful content to competent government authorities. We have implemented internal control procedures screening the information and content on our platform interface to ensure their compliance with these provisions. However, there can be no assurance that all of the information or content displayed on, retrieved from or linked to our mobile apps complies with the requirements of the provisions at all times. If our mobile apps are found to violate the provisions, we may be subject to penalties, including warning, service suspension or removal of our mobile apps from the relevant mobile app store, which may materially and adversely affect our business and operating results.

We may be subject to litigation and regulatory investigations and proceedings, and may not always be successful in defending ourselves against such claims or proceedings.

We are subject to lawsuits and other claims in the ordinary course of our business. Our business operations entail substantial litigation and regulatory risks, including the risk of lawsuits and other legal actions relating to information disclosure, client on boarding procedures, sales practices, product design, fraud and misconduct, and control procedures deficiencies, as well as the protection of personal and confidential information of our clients. We may be subject to arbitration claims and lawsuits in the ordinary course of our business. We may also be subject to inquiries, inspections, investigations and proceedings by regulatory and other governmental agencies. See “—We are subject to extensive and evolving regulatory requirements in Hong Kong, non-compliance with

 

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which, may result in penalties, limitations and prohibitions on our future business activities or suspension or revocation of our licenses and trading rights, and consequently may materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition, operations and prospects. In addition, we are involved in ongoing inquiries and investigations by the HK SFC” and “Business—Ongoing Regulatory Actions.” Actions brought against us may result in settlements, injunctions, fines, penalties, suspension or revocation of license, reprimands or other results adverse to us that could harm our reputation. Even if we are successful in defending ourselves against these actions, the costs of such defense may be significant to us. In market downturns, the number of legal claims and the amount of damages sought in legal proceedings may increase.

In addition, we may face arbitration claims and lawsuits brought by our users and clients who have used our online brokerage or other financial services and found them unsatisfactory. We may also encounter complaints alleging misrepresentation with regard to our platform and/or services. This risk may be heightened during periods when credit, equity or other financial markets are deteriorating in value or are volatile, or when clients are experiencing losses. Actions brought against us may result in settlements, awards, injunctions, fines, penalties or other results adverse to us including harm to our reputation. Even if we are successful in defending against these actions, the defense of such matters may result in our incurring significant expenses. Predicting the outcome of such matters is inherently difficult, particularly where claimants seek substantial or unspecified damages, or when arbitration or legal proceedings are at an early stage. A significant judgement or regulatory action against us or a material disruption in our business arising from adverse adjudications in proceedings against the directors, officers or employees would have a material adverse effect on our liquidity, business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.

Our risk management policies and procedures may not be fully effective in identifying or mitigating risk exposure in all market environments or against all types of risks.

We have devoted significant resources to developing our risk management policies and procedures and will continue to do so. Nonetheless, our policies and procedures to identify, monitor and manage risks may not be fully effective in mitigating our risk exposure in all market environments or against all types of risks. Many of our risk management policies are based upon observed historical market behavior or statistics based on historical models. During periods of market volatility or due to unforeseen events, the historically derived correlations upon which these methods are based may not be valid. As a result, these methods may not predict future exposures accurately, which could be significantly greater than what our models indicate. This could cause us to incur losses or cause our risk management strategies to be ineffective. Other risk management methods depend upon the evaluation of information regarding markets, clients, catastrophe occurrence or other matters that are publicly available or otherwise accessible to us, which may not always be accurate, complete, up-to-date or properly evaluated.

In addition, although we perform due diligence on potential clients, we cannot assure you that we will be able to identify all the possible issues based on the information available to us. If a user or client does not meet the relevant qualification requirements under applicable laws but is still able to use our services, we may be subject to regulatory actions and penalties and held liable for damages. Management of operational, legal and regulatory risks requires, among other things, policies and procedures to properly record and verify a large number of transactions and events, and these policies and procedures may not be fully effective in mitigating our risk exposure in all market environments or against all types of risks.

From time to time we may evaluate and potentially consummate investments and acquisitions or enter into alliances, which may require significant management attention, disrupt our business and adversely affect our financial results.

We may evaluate and consider strategic investments, combinations, acquisitions or alliances to further increase the value of our platforms and better serve our users and clients. These transactions could be material to our financial condition and results of operations if consummated. We may not have the financial resources

 

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necessary to consummate any acquisitions in the future or the ability to obtain the necessary funds on satisfactory terms. Any future acquisitions may result in significant transaction expenses and risks associated with entering new markets in addition to integration and consolidation risks. Because acquisitions historically have not been a core part of our growth strategy, we have no material experience in successfully utilizing acquisitions. We may not have sufficient management, financial and other resources to integrate any such future acquisitions or to successfully operate new businesses, and we may be unable to profitably operate our expanded company.

Increases in labor costs in the PRC and Hong Kong and enforcement of stricter labor laws and regulations in the PRC may adversely affect our business and results of operations.

The economy in China and Hong Kong has experienced increases in inflation and labor costs in recent years. As a result, average wages in the PRC and Hong Kong are expected to continue to increase. In addition, we are required by PRC and Hong Kong laws and regulations to pay various statutory employee benefits, including pension, housing fund, medical insurance, work-related injury insurance, unemployment insurance and maternity insurance to designated government agencies for the benefit of our employees. The relevant government agencies may examine whether an employer has made adequate payments to the statutory employee benefits, and those employers who fail to make adequate payments may be subject to late payment fees, fines and/or other penalties. We expect that our labor costs, including wages and employee benefits, will continue to increase. Unless we are able to control our labor costs or pass on these increased labor costs, our financial condition and results of operations may be adversely affected.

We have identified a material weakness in our internal controls as of December 31, 2018, and if we fail to implement and maintain an effective system of internal controls to remediate our material weakness over financial reporting, we may be unable to accurately report our results of operations, meet our reporting obligations or prevent fraud.

Prior to this offering, we have been a private company with limited accounting personnel and other resources with which to address our internal controls. In the course of auditing our consolidated financial statements, we and our independent registered public accounting firm identified a material weakness in our internal controls. A material weakness is a deficiency, or combination of deficiencies, in internal controls such that there is a reasonable possibility that a material misstatement of our annual or interim financial statements will not be prevented or detected on a timely basis. One material weakness relates to our lack of a sufficient number of financial reporting personnel with the appropriate level of knowledge and experience in the application of U.S. GAAP and Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC, rules and regulations commensurate with our reporting requirements. Although we have begun to implement measures to address the material weakness, implementation of those measures may not fully remediate the material weakness in a timely manner. In the future we may determine that we have additional material weaknesses, or our independent registered public accounting firm may disagree with our management assessment of the effectiveness of our internal controls.

If we fail to establish and maintain adequate internal controls, we could suffer material misstatements in our financial statements and fail to meet our reporting obligations, which would likely cause investors to lose confidence in our reported financial information. This could limit our access to capital markets, adversely affect our results of operations and lead to a decline in the trading price of the ADSs. Additionally, ineffective internal controls could expose us to an increased risk of fraud or misuse of corporate assets and subject us to potential delisting from the stock exchange on which we list or to other regulatory investigations and civil or criminal sanctions. We could also be required to restate our historical financial statements.

Fluctuations in exchange rates could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and the price of the ADSs.

Although we will have certain expenses and revenues denominated in Renminbi, our revenues and expenses will be denominated predominantly in Hong Kong dollars. The value of the Hong Kong dollar and Renminbi

 

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against the U.S. dollar may fluctuate and may be affected by, among other things, changes in political and economic conditions. Although the exchange rate between the Hong Kong dollar to the U.S. dollar has been pegged since 1983, we cannot assure you that the Hong Kong dollar will remain pegged to the U.S. dollar. The value of Renminbi against the U.S. dollar and other currencies is affected by changes in China’s political and economic conditions and by China’s foreign exchange policies, among other things. In July 2005, the PRC government changed its decades-old policy of pegging the value of Renminbi to the U.S. dollar, and Renminbi appreciated more than 20% against the U.S. dollar over the following three years. Between July 2008 and June 2010, this appreciation halted and the exchange rate between Renminbi and the U.S. dollar remained within a narrow band. Since June 2010, Renminbi has fluctuated against the U.S. dollar, at times significantly and unpredictably. With the development of the foreign exchange market and progress towards interest rate liberalization and Renminbi internationalization, the PRC government may in the future announce further changes to the exchange rate system and we cannot assure you that Renminbi will not appreciate or depreciate significantly in value against the U.S. dollar in the future. It is difficult to predict how market forces or PRC or U.S. government policy may impact the exchange rate between Renminbi and the U.S. dollar in the future.

Any significant fluctuations in the exchange rates between Hong Kong dollars or Renminbi to U.S. dollars may have a material adverse effect on our revenues and financial condition. For example, to the extent that we are required to convert U.S. dollars we receive from this offering into Hong Kong dollars or Renminbi for our operations, fluctuations in the exchange rates between Hong Kong dollars or Renminbi against the U.S. dollar would have an adverse effect on the amounts we receive from the conversion. We have not used any forward contracts, futures, swaps or currency borrowings to hedge our exposure to foreign currency risk.

Very limited hedging options are available in China to reduce our exposure to exchange rate fluctuations. To date, we have not entered into any hedging transactions in an effort to reduce our exposure to foreign currency exchange risk. While we may decide to enter into hedging transactions in the future, the availability and effectiveness of these hedges may be limited and we may not be able to adequately hedge our exposure or at all. In addition, our currency exchange losses may be magnified by PRC exchange control regulations that restrict our ability to convert Renminbi into foreign currency. As a result, fluctuations in exchange rates may have a material adverse effect on your investment.

Our anticipated international expansion will subject us to additional risks and increased legal and regulatory requirements, which could have a material effect on our business.

Our historical operations have been focused in Hong Kong and the PRC. In the future, we plan to expand further into international markets, including the United States. As we enter countries and markets that are new to us, we must tailor our services and business model to the unique circumstances of such countries and markets, which can be complex, difficult, costly and divert management and personnel resources. In addition, we may face competition in other countries from companies that may have more experience with operations in such countries or with global operations in general. Laws and business practices that favor local competitors or prohibit or limit foreign ownership of certain businesses or our failure to adapt our practices, systems, processes and business models effectively to the client preferences of each country into which we expand, could slow our growth. Certain markets in which we operate have, or certain new markets in which we may operate in the future may have, lower margins than our more mature markets, which could have a negative impact on our overall margins as our revenues from these markets grow over time.

In addition to the risks outlined elsewhere in this section, our international expansion is subject to a number of other risks, including:

 

   

currency exchange restrictions or costs and exchange rate fluctuations;

 

   

exposure to local economic or political instability, threatened or actual acts of terrorism and security concerns in general;

 

   

weaker or uncertain enforcement of our contractual and intellectual property rights;

 

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preferences by local populations for local service providers;

 

   

slower adoption of the internet and mobile devices as advertising, broadcast and commerce mediums and the lack of appropriate infrastructure to support widespread internet and mobile device usage in those markets;

 

   

difficulties in attracting and retaining qualified employees in certain international markets, as well as managing staffing and operations due to increased complexity, distance, time zones, language and cultural differences; and

 

   

uncertainty regarding liability for services and content, including uncertainty as a result of local laws and lack of precedent.

Such international expansion will also subject us to additional legal and regulatory control and requirements. While we currently do not execute securities trades directly on the U.S. stock exchanges, we aggregate trade instructions from clients for securities traded on the major stock exchanges in the United States and collaborate with qualified third-party brokerage companies who execute and settle trade orders for our clients. Our wholly-owned subsidiary, Futu Inc., is registered with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) as a broker-dealer and is a member in good standing of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”). Another wholly-owned subsidiary of ours, Futu Clearing Inc., has applied for a clearing license in the U.S. with the SEC. However, we cannot assure you that Futu Clearing Inc. will obtain the clearing license in a timely fashion, or at all. As we continue to expand our business in the United States, we will be subject to the rules and regulations imposed by the SEC, FINRA and other regulatory authorities. In addition, U.S. domestic and foreign stock exchanges, other self-regulatory organizations and state and foreign securities commissions can censure, fine, issue cease-and-desist orders, or suspend or expel a broker-dealer or any of its officers or employees. Our ability to comply with all applicable laws and rules is largely dependent on our internal system to ensure compliance, as well as our ability to attract and retain qualified compliance personnel. We could be subject to disciplinary or other actions in the future due to claimed noncompliance, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. To continue to expand our services internationally, we may have to comply with the regulatory controls of each country in which we conduct or intend to conduct business, the requirements of which may not be clearly defined. The varying compliance requirements of these different regulatory jurisdictions, which are often unclear, may limit our ability to continue existing international operations and further expand internationally.

Any failure by us or our third-party service providers to comply with applicable anti-money laundering laws and regulations could damage our reputation.

We are required to comply with applicable anti-money laundering and counter terrorism laws and regulations in Hong Kong, the PRC and other relevant jurisdictions. These laws and regulations require financial institutions to establish sound internal control policies and procedures with respect to anti-money laundering monitoring and reporting activities. Such policies and procedures require us to, among other things, designate an independent anti-money laundering reporting officer, establish a customer due diligence system in accordance with relevant rules, record the details of client activities and report suspicious transactions to the relevant authorities.

We have implemented various policies and procedures in compliance with all applicable anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing laws and regulations, including internal controls and “know-your-customer” procedures, for preventing money laundering and terrorist financing. In addition, our institutional partners in Hong Kong have their own appropriate anti-money laundering policies and procedures with respect to accounts opening services for our clients. Certain of our institutional partners are subject to anti-money laundering obligations under applicable anti-money laundering laws and regulations and are regulated in that respect by the HK SFC, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority and the PBOC. We have adopted commercially reasonable procedures for monitoring our institutional funding partners. In the event that we fail to fully comply

 

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with the applicable laws and regulations, the relevant government authorities may freeze our assets or impose fines or other penalties on us. There can be no assurance that there will not be failures in detecting money laundering or other illegal or improper activities, which may adversely affect our business, reputation, financial condition and results of operations.

Our policies and procedures may not be completely effective in preventing other parties from using us or any of our institutional funding partners as a conduit for money laundering (including illegal cash operations) or terrorist financing without our knowledge. If we were to be associated with money laundering (including illegal cash operations) or terrorist financing, our reputation could suffer and we could become subject to regulatory fines, sanctions, or legal enforcement, including being added to any “blacklists” that would prohibit certain parties from engaging in transactions with us, all of which could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations. Even if we and our institutional funding partners comply with the applicable anti-money laundering laws and regulations, we and institutional funding partners may not be able to fully eliminate money laundering and other illegal or improper activities in light of the complexity and the secrecy of these activities. Any negative perception of the industry, such as that arising from any failure of other online brokerage firms to detect or prevent money laundering activities, even if factually incorrect or based on isolated incidents, could compromise our image, undermine the trust and credibility we have established, and negatively impact our financial condition and results of operation. See also “—Risks related to Our Business and Industry—We are subject to extensive and evolving regulatory requirements in Hong Kong, non-compliance with which, may result in penalties, limitations and prohibitions on our future business activities or suspension or revocation of our licenses and trading rights, and consequently may materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition, operations and prospects. In addition, we are involved in ongoing inquiries and investigations by the HK SFC.”

Our business may be affected by the Competition Ordinance of Hong Kong.

The Competition Ordinance (Chapter 619 of the Laws of Hong Kong) came into full effect in Hong Kong on December 14, 2015. The Competition Ordinance prohibits and deters undertakings in all sectors from adopting anti-competitive conduct which has the object or effect of preventing, restricting or distorting competition in Hong Kong. The key prohibitions include (i) prohibition of agreements between businesses which have the object or effect of preventing, restricting or distorting competition in Hong Kong; and (ii) prohibiting companies with a substantial degree of market power, including monopolists, from abusing their power by engaging in conduct that has the object or effect of harming competition in Hong Kong. There are very severe penalties for breaches of the Competition Ordinance, including financial penalties of up to 10.0% of the total gross revenues obtained in Hong Kong for each year of infringement, up to a maximum of three years in which the contravention occurs.

Since the Competition Ordinance has only been operational since December 2015, there are uncertainties on the full effect of the rules in respect of compliance, infringement and its effect on our sales. We may face difficulties and may need to incur legal costs in ensuring our compliance with the Competition Ordinance. We may also inadvertently infringe the Competition Ordinance and under such circumstance, we may be subject to fines and/or other penalties, incur substantial legal costs and experience business disruption and/or negative media coverage, which could adversely affect our business, results of operations and reputation.

We have limited business insurance coverage.

We currently carry limited insurance in connection with our brokerage business covered by the Type 1 license from HK SFC against certain risks in accordance with the requirements under the Securities and Futures (Insurance) Rules of Hong Kong. However, we do not carry business interruption insurance to compensate for losses that could occur to the extent not required. We also do not maintain general product liability insurance or key-man insurance, and only maintain limited general property insurance. We consider our insurance coverage to be reasonable in light of the nature of our business, but we cannot assure you that our insurance coverage is

 

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sufficient to prevent us from any loss or that we will be able to successfully claim our losses under our current insurance policies on a timely basis, or at all. If we incur any loss that is not covered by our insurance policies, or the compensated amount is significantly less than our actual loss, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be materially and adversely affected.

We may not be able to obtain additional capital when desired, on favorable terms or at all. If we fail to meet the capital requirement pursuant to the Securities and Futures (Financial Resources) Rules, our business operations and performance will be adversely affected.

We anticipate that the net proceeds we receive from this offering, together with our current cash, cash provided by operating activities and funds available through our bank loans and credit facilities, will be sufficient to meet our current and anticipated needs for general corporate purposes for at least the next 12 months. However, we need to make continued investments in facilities, hardware, software, technological systems and to retain talented personnel to remain competitive. Due to the unpredictable nature of the capital markets and our industry, we cannot assure you that we will be able to raise additional capital on terms favorable to us, or at all, if and when required, especially if we experience disappointing operating results. If adequate capital is not available to us as required, our ability to fund our operations, take advantage of unanticipated opportunities, develop or enhance our infrastructure or respond to competitive pressures could be significantly limited, which would adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. If we do raise additional funds through the issuance of equity or convertible debt securities, the ownership interests of our shareholders could be significantly diluted. These newly issued securities may have rights, preferences or privileges senior to those of existing shareholders. In addition, Futu Securities International (Hong Kong) Limited, our HK SFC licensed subsidiary, is required under the Securities and Futures (Financial Resources) Rules to maintain certain level of liquid capital. If we fail to maintain the required level of liquid capital, the HK SFC may take actions against us and our business will be adversely affected.

Internet-related issues may reduce or slow the growth in the use of our services in the future. In particular, our future growth depends on the further acceptance of the internet and particularly the mobile internet as an effective platform for assessing trading and other financial services and content.

Critical issues concerning the commercial use of the internet, such as ease of access, security, privacy, reliability, cost, and quality of service, remain unresolved and may adversely impact the growth of internet use. If internet usage continues to increase rapidly, the internet infrastructure may not be able to support the demands placed on it by this growth, and its performance and reliability may decline. Continuous rapid growth in internet traffic may cause decreased performance, outages and delays. Our ability to increase the speed with which we provide services to users and clients and to increase the scope and quality of such services is limited by and dependent upon the speed and reliability of our users’ and clients’ access to the internet, which is beyond our control. If periods of decreased performance, outages or delays on the internet occur frequently or other critical issues concerning the internet are not resolved, overall internet usage or usage of our web-based services could increase more slowly or decline, which would cause our business, results of operations and financial condition to be materially and adversely affected.

Furthermore, while the internet and the mobile internet have gained increased popularity in China and Hong Kong as platforms for financial products and content in recent years, many investors have limited experience in trading and using other financial services online. For example, investors may not find online content to be reliable sources of financial product information. If we fail to educate investors about the value of our platform and our services, our growth will be limited and our business, financial performance and prospects may be materially and adversely affected. The further acceptance of the internet and particularly the mobile internet as an effective and efficient platform for trading and other financial services and content is also affected by factors beyond our control, including negative publicity around online and mobile brokerage services and restrictive regulatory measures taken by the PRC government. If online and mobile networks do not achieve adequate acceptance in the market, our growth prospects, results of operations and financial condition could be harmed.

 

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We depend on contractual arrangements with our VIE and its shareholders to operate a limited part of our business in China, which may not be as effective as direct ownership in providing operational control and otherwise have a material adverse effect as to our business.

Although the vast majority of our business is conducted in Hong Kong, we depend on our VIE to conduct a limited part of our operations in China. In 2016, 2017 and 2018, we generated 2.9%, 1.5% and 0.4% of our total revenues through our VIE in China, respectively, whose assets accounted for 0.7%, 0.2% and 0.2% of our total assets during the same years, respectively. For a description of these contractual arrangements, see “Corporate History and Structure—Contractual Arrangements with Our VIE and Its Shareholders.” These contractual arrangements may not be as effective as direct ownership in providing us with control over our VIE. If our VIE or its shareholders fail to perform their respective obligations under these contractual arrangements, our recourse to the assets held by our VIE is indirect and we may have to incur substantial costs and expend significant resources to enforce such arrangements in reliance on legal remedies under PRC law. These remedies may not always be effective, particularly in light of uncertainties in the PRC legal system. Furthermore, in connection with litigation, arbitration or other judicial or dispute resolution proceedings, assets under the name of any of record holder of equity interest in our VIE, including such equity interest, may be put under court custody. As a consequence, we cannot be certain that the equity interest will be disposed pursuant to the contractual arrangement or ownership by the record holder of the equity interest.

All of these contractual arrangements are governed by and interpreted in accordance with PRC law, and disputes arising from these contractual arrangements will be resolved through arbitration in China. However, such arbitration provisions do not apply to claims made under the United States federal securities laws. The legal environment in the PRC is not as developed as in other jurisdictions, such as the United States. As a result, uncertainties in the PRC legal system could limit our ability to enforce these contractual arrangements. In the event that we are unable to enforce these contractual arrangements, or if we suffer significant time delays or other obstacles in the process of enforcing these contractual arrangements, it would be very difficult to exert effective control over our VIE, and our ability to conduct our business and our financial condition and results of operations may be materially and adversely affected. See “—Risks Related to Doing Business in China—There are uncertainties regarding the interpretation and enforcement of PRC laws, rules and regulations.” In the event that we are unable to enforce these contractual arrangements, or if we suffer significant time delays or other obstacles in the process of enforcing these contractual arrangements, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be materially and adversely affected.

The shareholders of our VIE in China may have potential conflicts of interest with us, which may materially and adversely affect our business and financial condition.

In connection with our operations in China, we depend on the shareholders of our VIE to abide by the obligations under such contractual arrangements. The interests of these shareholders in their individual capacities as the shareholders of our VIE may differ from the interests of our company as a whole, as what is in the best interests of our VIE, including matters such as whether to distribute dividends or to make other distributions to fund our offshore requirement, may not be in the best interests of our company. There can be no assurance that when conflicts of interest arise, any or all of these individuals will act in the best interests of our company or those conflicts of interest will be resolved in our favor. In addition, these individuals may breach or cause our VIE and its subsidiaries to breach or refuse to renew the existing contractual arrangements with us.

Currently, we do not have arrangements to address potential conflicts of interest the shareholders of our VIE may encounter, on one hand, and as a beneficial owner of our company, on the other hand. We, however, could, at all times, exercise our option under the exclusive option agreement to cause them to transfer all of their equity ownership in our VIE to a PRC entity or individual designated by us as permitted by the then applicable PRC laws. In addition, if such conflicts of interest arise, we could also, in the capacity of attorney-in-fact of the then existing shareholders of our VIE as provided under the power of attorney agreements, directly appoint new directors of our VIE. We rely on the shareholders of our VIE to comply with PRC laws and regulations, which

 

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protect contracts and provide that directors and executive officers owe a duty of loyalty to our company and require them to avoid conflicts of interest and not to take advantage of their positions for personal gains, and the laws of the Cayman Islands, which provide that directors have a duty of care and a duty of loyalty to act honestly in good faith with a view to our best interests. However, the legal frameworks of China and the Cayman Islands do not provide guidance on resolving conflicts in the event of a conflict with another corporate governance regime. If we cannot resolve any conflicts of interest or disputes between us and the shareholders of our VIE, we would have to rely on legal proceedings, which could result in disruption of our business and subject us to substantial uncertainty as to the outcome of any such legal proceedings.

We face risks related to natural disasters, health epidemics and other outbreaks, which could significantly disrupt our operations.

Our business could be materially and adversely affected by natural disasters, health epidemics or other public safety concerns affecting the PRC and Hong Kong. Natural disasters may give rise to server interruptions, breakdowns, system failures, technology platform failures or internet failures, which could cause the loss or corruption of data or malfunctions of software or hardware as well as adversely affect our ability to operate our platform and provide services and solutions. Our business could also be adversely affected if our employees are affected by health epidemics. In addition, our results of operations could be adversely affected to the extent that any health epidemic harms the Chinese economy in general. Our headquarters are located in Shenzhen and Hong Kong, where most of our management and employees currently reside. Most of our system hardware and back-up systems are hosted in facilities located in Shenzhen and Hong Kong. Consequently, if any natural disasters, health epidemics or other public safety concerns were to affect Shenzhen and/or Hong Kong, our operation may experience material disruptions, which may materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Risks Related to Doing Business in China

The current trade war between the U.S. and China, and on a larger scale internationally, may dampen growth in China and other markets where the majority of our clients reside, and our activities and results of operations may be negatively impacted.

The U.S. government has recently imposed, and has recently proposed to impose additional, new or higher tariffs on specified products imported from China to penalize China for what it characterizes as unfair trade practices. China has responded by imposing, and proposing to impose additional, new or higher tariffs on specified products imported from the U.S. On September 17, 2018, President Trump announced his decision to impose a 10% tariff on the third list of US$200 billion in imports from China to the U.S. effective September 24, 2018. The 10% tariff was scheduled to increase to 25% on January 1, 2019. However, the U.S. government has agreed to postpone this increase until the beginning of March of 2019 to allow the U.S. and Chinese governments time to negotiate an agreement on tariffs. We cannot assure you that the negotiations will result in an agreement by the deadline in March or that the 25% increase or other tariffs will not be imposed even if an agreement will be reached. These tariffs are in addition to two earlier rounds of tariffs implemented against Chinese products on June 6, 2018 and August 16, 2018 that amount to tariffs on US$50 billion of Chinese products imported into the U.S. In response, China has imposed, and has proposed to impose additional tariffs on a number of the U.S. goods, on a much smaller scale, in the current time.

Although we are not subject to any of those tariff measures, the proposed tariffs may adversely affect the economic growth in China and other markets as well as the financial condition of our clients. With the potential decrease in the spending powers of our target clients, we cannot guarantee that there will be no negative impact on our operations. In addition, the current and future actions or escalations by either the U.S. or China that affect trade relations may cause global economic turmoil and potentially have a negative impact on our business, financial condition and results of operations, and we cannot provide any assurance as to whether such actions will occur or the form that they may take.

 

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Changes in the political and economic policies of the PRC government may materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations and may result in our inability to sustain our growth and expansion strategies.

Our financial condition and results of operations are affected by economic, political and legal developments in the PRC. The PRC economy differs from the economies of most developed countries in many respects, including the extent of government involvement, level of development, growth rate, and control of foreign exchange and allocation of resources. Although the PRC government has implemented measures emphasizing the utilization of market forces for economic reform, the reduction of state ownership of productive assets, and the establishment of improved corporate governance in business enterprises, a substantial portion of productive assets in China is still owned by the government. In addition, the PRC government continues to play a significant role in regulating industry development by imposing industrial policies. The PRC government also exercises significant control over China’s economic growth by allocating resources, controlling payment of foreign currency-denominated obligations, setting monetary policy, regulating financial services and institutions and providing preferential treatment to particular industries or companies.

While the PRC economy has experienced significant growth in the past three decades, growth has been uneven, both geographically and among various sectors of the economy. The PRC government has implemented various measures to encourage economic growth and guide the allocation of resources. Some of these measures may benefit the overall PRC economy, but may also have a negative effect on us. Our financial condition and results of operations could be materially and adversely affected by government control over capital investments or changes in tax regulations that are applicable to us. In addition, the PRC government has implemented in the past certain measures to control the pace of economic growth. These measures may cause decreased economic activity, which in turn could lead to a reduction in demand for our services and consequently have a material adverse effect on our businesses, financial condition and results of operations.

There are uncertainties regarding the interpretation and enforcement of PRC laws, rules and regulations.

A limited part of our operations is conducted in the PRC and is governed by PRC laws, rules and regulations. Our PRC subsidiaries and VIE are subject to laws, rules and regulations applicable to foreign investment in China. The PRC legal system is a civil law system based on written statutes. Unlike the common law system, prior court decisions may be cited for reference but have limited precedential value.

In 1979, the PRC government began to promulgate a comprehensive system of laws, rules and regulations governing economic matters in general. The overall effect of legislation over the past three decades has significantly enhanced the protections afforded to various forms of foreign investment in China. However, China has not developed a fully integrated legal system, and recently enacted laws, rules and regulations may not sufficiently cover all aspects of economic activities in China or may be subject to significant degrees of interpretation by PRC regulatory agencies. In particular, because these laws, rules and regulations are relatively new, and because of the limited number of published decisions and the nonbinding nature of such decisions, and because the laws, rules and regulations often give the relevant regulator significant discretion in how to enforce them, the interpretation and enforcement of these laws, rules and regulations involve uncertainties and can be inconsistent and unpredictable. In addition, the PRC legal system is based in part on government policies and internal rules, some of which are not published on a timely basis or at all, and which may have a retroactive effect. As a result, we may not be aware of our violation of these policies and rules until after the occurrence of the violation.

Any administrative and court proceedings in China may be protracted, resulting in substantial costs and diversion of resources and management attention. Since PRC administrative and court authorities have significant discretion in interpreting and implementing statutory and contractual terms, it may be more difficult to evaluate the outcome of administrative and court proceedings and the level of legal protection we enjoy than in more developed legal systems. These uncertainties may impede our ability to enforce the contracts we have entered into and could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

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If the PRC government deems that the contractual arrangements in relation to our VIE do not comply with PRC regulatory restrictions on foreign investment in the relevant industries, or if these regulations or the interpretation of existing regulations change in the future, we could be subject to severe penalties or be forced to relinquish our interests in those operations.

The PRC government regulates internet-based businesses through strict business licensing requirements and other government regulations. These laws and regulations also include limitations on foreign ownership of PRC companies that engage in internet-based businesses. Specifically, the Special Administrative Measures for Entrance of Foreign Investment (Negative List) (2018 Version) provides that foreign investors are generally not allowed to own more than 50% of the equity interests in a value-added telecommunication service provider other than an e-commerce service provider which does not apply to us.

Because we are an exempted company incorporated in the Cayman Islands, we are classified as a foreign enterprise under PRC laws and regulations, and our wholly-owned PRC subsidiaries, Shen Si Network Technology (Beijing) Co., Ltd., or Shensi Beijing, Futu Internet Technology (Shenzhen) Co., Ltd., Shenzhen Shidai Futu Consulting Co., Ltd. and Shenzhen Qianhai Fuzhitu Investment Consulting Management Co., Ltd. are foreign-invested enterprises, or FIEs. To comply with PRC laws and regulations, we conduct our business in China through our VIE and its affiliates. Shensi Beijing has entered into a series of contractual arrangements with our VIE and its shareholders. In addition, pursuant to the resolutions of all shareholders of Futu Holdings Limited and the resolutions of the board of directors of Futu Holdings Limited, the board of directors of Futu Holdings Limited or any officer authorized by such board shall cause Shensi Beijing to exercise Shensi Beijing’s rights under the power of attorney agreements entered into among Shensi Beijing, Shenzhen Futu and the shareholders of Shenzhen Futu, as well as Shensi Beijing’s rights under the exclusive option agreement between Shensi Beijing and Shenzhen Futu. As a result of these resolutions and the provision of unlimited financial support from our Company to Shenzhen Futu, we are considered to be its primary beneficiary for accounting purposes under U.S. GAAP. For a description of these contractual arrangements, see “Corporate History and Structure—Contractual Arrangements with Our VIE and Its Shareholders.”

We believe that our corporate structure and contractual arrangements comply with the current applicable PRC laws and regulations. Our PRC legal counsel, based on its understanding of the relevant laws and regulations currently in effect, is of the opinion that each of the contracts among our wholly-owned PRC subsidiary, our VIE and its shareholders is valid, binding and enforceable in accordance with its terms. However, as there are substantial uncertainties regarding the interpretation and application of PRC laws and regulations, including the Regulations on Mergers and Acquisitions of Domestic Enterprises by Foreign Investors, or the M&A Rules and the Telecommunications Regulations and the relevant regulatory measures concerning the telecommunications industry, there can be no assurance that the PRC government authorities, such as the Ministry of Commerce, or the MOFCOM, or the MIIT, or other authorities that regulate the telecommunications industry, would agree that our corporate structure or any of the above contractual arrangements comply with PRC licensing, registration or other regulatory requirements, with existing policies or with requirements or policies that may be adopted in the future. PRC laws and regulations governing the validity of these contractual arrangements are uncertain and the relevant government authorities have broad discretion in interpreting these laws and regulations.

If our corporate structure and contractual arrangements are deemed by the MIIT or the MOFCOM or other regulators having competent authority to be illegal, either in whole or in part, we may lose control of our VIE and have to modify such structure to comply with regulatory requirements. However, there can be no assurance that we can achieve this without material disruption to our business. Further, if our corporate structure and contractual arrangements are found to be in violation of any existing or future PRC laws or regulations, the relevant regulatory authorities would have broad discretion in dealing with such violations, including:

 

   

revoking our business and operating licenses;

 

   

levying fines on us;

 

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confiscating any of our income that they deem to be obtained through illegal operations;

 

   

shutting down our services;

 

   

discontinuing or restricting our operations in China;

 

   

imposing conditions or requirements with which we may not be able to comply;

 

   

requiring us to change our corporate structure and contractual arrangements;

 

   

restricting or prohibiting our use of the proceeds from overseas offering to finance our PRC VIE’s business and operations; and

 

   

taking other regulatory or enforcement actions that could be harmful to our business.

Furthermore, new PRC laws, rules and regulations may be introduced to impose additional requirements that may be applicable to our corporate structure and contractual arrangements. See “—Substantial uncertainties exist with respect to the enactment timetable and final content of a draft new PRC Foreign Investment Law and how it may impact the viability of our current corporate structure and operations.” Occurrence of any of these events could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. In addition, if the imposition of any of these penalties or requirement to restructure our corporate structure causes us to lose the rights to direct the activities of our VIE or our right to receive their economic benefits, we would no longer be able to consolidate the financial results of such VIE in our consolidated financial statements. See “Corporate History and Structure—Contractual Arrangements with Our VIE and Its Shareholders.”

Our contractual arrangements with our VIE may result in adverse tax consequences to us.

We could face material and adverse tax consequences if the PRC tax authorities determine that our contractual arrangements with our VIE were not made on an arm’s length basis and adjust our income and expenses for PRC tax purposes by requiring a transfer pricing adjustment. A transfer pricing adjustment could adversely affect us by (i) increasing the tax liabilities of our VIE without reducing the tax liability of our subsidiaries, which could further result in late payment fees and other penalties to our VIE for underpaid taxes; or (ii) limiting the ability of our VIE to obtain or maintain preferential tax treatments and other financial incentives.

Substantial uncertainties exist with respect to the enactment timetable and final content of a draft new PRC Foreign Investment Law and how it may impact the viability of our current corporate structure and operations.

In January 2015, the Ministry of Commerce, or MOFCOM, published a discussion draft of the Foreign Investment Law or the 2015 Draft Foreign Investment Law for public review and comment. On December 26, 2018, the National People’s Congress published the amended and revised draft of the Foreign Investment Law to replace the 2015 Draft Foreign Investment Law, or the 2018 Draft Foreign Investment Law, for public consultation. Among other things, the 2015 Draft Foreign Investment Law expands the definition of foreign investment and introduces the principle of “actual control” in determining whether a company should be treated as a foreign invested enterprise, or FIE. Once an entity falls within the definition of FIE, it may be subject to foreign investment “restrictions” or “prohibitions” set forth in a “negative list” to be separately issued by the State Council later. If an FIE proposes to conduct business in an industry subject to foreign investment “restrictions” in the “negative list,” the FIE must go through a pre-approval process. The 2018 Draft Foreign Investment Law have revised the definition of “foreign investment” and removed all references to the definitions of “actual control” or “variable interest entity structure” under the 2015 Draft Foreign Investment Law, and have further specified that all “foreign investments” shall be conducted pursuant to the negative list issued or approved to be issued by the State Council.

Under the 2018 Draft Foreign Investment Law, the internet content service that we conduct through our VIE and its subsidiaries are subject to foreign investment restrictions set forth in the Special Administrative Measures

 

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for Entrance of Foreign Investment (Negative List) (2018 version) and the Market Access Negative List (2018 version), or Negative List, for the access of foreign investment issued by MOFCOM and the National Development and Reform Commission. It is still unclear whether the “negative list” under the Foreign Investment Law when it is signed into law will be different from the Negative List. Substantial uncertainties exist with respect to the enactment timetable and final content of the draft Foreign Investment Law.

To date, there is no timetable for the enactment of the 2018 Draft Foreign Investment Law and there are uncertainties as to whether the 2018 Draft Foreign Investment Law would be further amended, revised or updated. If the enacted version of the Foreign Investment Law and the final “negative list” mandate further actions to be taken by us, such as a MOFCOM pre-approval process, there is no assurance that we can obtain such pre-approval on a timely basis, or at all.

The approval of the China Securities Regulatory Commission, or the CSRC, may be required in connection with this offering under a PRC regulation. The regulation also establishes more complex procedures for acquisitions conducted by foreign investors that could make it more difficult for us to grow through acquisitions.

On August 8, 2006, six PRC regulatory agencies, including the China Securities Regulatory Commission, or the CSRC, promulgated the M&A Rules, which became effective on September 8, 2006 and was amended on June 22, 2009. This regulation, among other things, requires offshore special purpose vehicles, or SPVs, formed for the purpose of an overseas listing and controlled by PRC companies or individuals, to obtain the CSRC approval prior to listing their securities on an overseas stock exchange. The interpretation and application of the regulations remain unclear, and this offering may ultimately require approval from the CSRC. If CSRC approval is required, it is uncertain whether it would be possible for us to obtain the approval, and any failure to obtain or delay in obtaining CSRC approval for this offering would subject us to sanctions imposed by the CSRC and other PRC regulatory agencies. Our PRC legal counsel, CM Law Firm, has advised us that, based on their understanding of the current PRC laws, the CSRC approval is not required under the M&A Rules in the context of this offering because (i) the CSRC currently has not issued any definitive rule or interpretation concerning whether offerings like ours under this prospectus are subject to this regulation; (ii) our wholly owned PRC subsidiaries were established by foreign direct investment, rather than through a merger or acquisition of a domestic company as defined under the M&A Rules; and (iii) no explicit provision in the M&A Rules classifies the contractual arrangements between us and the VIE as a type of acquisition transaction falling under the M&A Rules.

However, we have been advised by our PRC legal counsel that there are uncertainties regarding the interpretation and application of the PRC law, and there can be no assurance that the PRC government will ultimately take a view that is not contrary to the above opinion of our PRC legal counsel. If it is determined that the CSRC approval is required for this offering, we may face sanctions by the CSRC or other PRC regulatory agencies for failure to seek the CSRC approval for this offering. These sanctions may include fines and penalties on our operations in the PRC although, to our knowledge, no definitive rules or interpretations have been issued to determine or quantify such fines or penalties, delays or restrictions on the repatriation of the proceeds from this offering into the PRC, restrictions on or prohibition of the payments or remittance of dividends by our PRC subsidiaries, or other actions that may have a material adverse effect on our business and the trading price of the ADSs. The CSRC or other PRC regulatory agencies may also take actions requiring us, or making it advisable to us, to halt this offering before the settlement and delivery of the ADSs that we are offering. Consequently, if you engage in market trading or other activities in anticipation of and prior to the settlement and delivery of the ADSs we are offering, you would be doing so at the risk that the settlement and delivery may not occur. In addition, if the CSRC or other regulatory agencies later promulgate new rules or explanations requiring that we obtain their approvals for this offering, we may be unable to obtain a waiver of such approval requirements, if and when procedures are established to obtain such a waiver.

 

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PRC regulations relating to investments in offshore companies by PRC residents may subject our PRC-resident beneficial owners or our PRC subsidiaries to liability or penalties, limit our ability to inject capital into our PRC subsidiaries or limit our PRC subsidiaries’ ability to increase their registered capital or distribute profits.

In July 2014, SAFE promulgated the Circular on Relevant Issues Concerning Foreign Exchange Control on Domestic Residents’ Offshore Investment and Financing and Roundtrip Investment through Special Purpose Vehicles, or SAFE Circular 37, which replaces the previous SAFE Circular 75. SAFE Circular 37 requires PRC residents, including PRC individuals and PRC corporate entities, to register with SAFE or its local branches in connection with their direct or indirect offshore investment activities. See “Regulations—Overview of the Laws and Regulations Relating to Our Business and Operations in China—Regulations on Foreign Exchange Registration of Overseas Investment by PRC Residents.” SAFE Circular 37 is applicable to our shareholders who are PRC residents and may be applicable to any offshore acquisitions that we may make in the future.

Under SAFE Circular 37, PRC residents who make, or have prior to the implementation of SAFE Circular 37 made, direct or indirect investments in offshore special purpose vehicles, or SPVs, are required to register such investments with SAFE or its local branches. In addition, any PRC resident who is a direct or indirect shareholder of an SPV, is required to update its registration with the local branch of SAFE with respect to that SPV, to reflect any material change. Moreover, any subsidiary of such SPV in China is required to urge the PRC resident shareholders to update their registration with the local branch of SAFE to reflect any material change. If any PRC resident shareholder of such SPV fails to make the required registration or to update the registration, the subsidiary of such SPV in China may be prohibited from distributing its profits or the proceeds from any capital reduction, share transfer or liquidation to the SPV, and the SPV may also be prohibited from making additional capital contributions into its subsidiaries in China. In February, 2015, SAFE promulgated a Notice on Further Simplifying and Improving Foreign Exchange Administration Policy on Direct Investment, or SAFE Notice 13. Under SAFE Notice 13, applications for foreign exchange registration of inbound foreign direct investments and outbound direct investments, including those required under SAFE Circular 37, must be filed with qualified banks instead of SAFE. Qualified banks should examine the applications and accept registrations under the supervision of SAFE. We have used our best efforts to notify PRC residents or entities who directly or indirectly hold shares in our Cayman Islands holding company and who are known to us as being PRC residents to complete the foreign exchange registrations. However, we may not be informed of the identities of all the PRC residents or entities holding direct or indirect interest in our company, nor can we compel our beneficial owners to comply with SAFE registration requirements. We cannot assure you that all other shareholders or beneficial owners of ours who are PRC residents or entities have complied with, and will in the future make, obtain or update any applicable registrations or approvals required by, SAFE regulations. Failure by such shareholders or beneficial owners to comply with SAFE regulations, or failure by us to amend the foreign exchange registrations of our PRC subsidiaries, could subject us to fines or legal sanctions, restrict our overseas or cross-border investment activities, limit our PRC subsidiaries’ ability to make distributions or pay dividends to us or affect our ownership structure, which could adversely affect our business and prospects.

Furthermore, as these foreign exchange and outbound investment related regulations are relatively new and their interpretation and implementation has been constantly evolving, it is unclear how these regulations, and any future regulation concerning offshore or cross-border investments and transactions, will be interpreted, amended and implemented by the relevant government authorities. For example, we may be subject to a more stringent review and approval process with respect to our foreign exchange activities, such as remittance of dividends and foreign-currency-denominated borrowings, which may adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations. We cannot assure you that we have complied or will be able to comply with all applicable foreign exchange and outbound investment related regulations. In addition, if we decide to acquire a PRC domestic company, we cannot assure you that we or the owners of such company, as the case may be, will be able to obtain the necessary approvals or complete the necessary filings and registrations required by the foreign exchange regulations. This may restrict our ability to implement our acquisition strategy and could adversely affect our business and prospects.

 

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Any failure to comply with PRC regulations regarding our employee share incentive plans may subject the PRC plan participants or us to fines and other legal or administrative sanctions.

Under the applicable regulations and SAFE rules, PRC citizens who participate in an employee stock ownership plan or a stock option plan in an overseas publicly listed company are required to register with SAFE and complete certain other procedures. In February 2012, SAFE promulgated the Notices on Issues concerning the Foreign Exchange Administration for Domestic Individuals Participating in Stock Incentive Plans of Overseas Publicly-Listed Companies, or the Stock Option Rules, which replaced the Application Procedures of Foreign Exchange Administration for Domestic Individuals Participating in Employee Stock Ownership Plan or Stock Option Plans of Overseas Publicly-Listed Companies issued by SAFE in March 2007. Pursuant to the Stock Option Rules, if a PRC resident participates in any stock incentive plan of an overseas publicly-listed company, a qualified PRC domestic agent must, among other things, file on behalf of such participant an application with SAFE to conduct the SAFE registration with respect to such stock incentive plan and obtain approval for an annual allowance with respect to the purchase of foreign exchange in connection with the exercise or sale of stock options or stock such participant holds. Such participating PRC residents’ foreign exchange income received from the sale of stock and dividends distributed by the overseas publicly-listed company must be fully remitted into a PRC collective foreign currency account opened and managed by the PRC agent before distribution to such participants. We and our PRC resident employees who have been granted stock options or other share-based incentives of our Company will be subject to the Stock Option Rules when our Company becomes an overseas listed company upon the completion of this offering. If we or our PRC resident participants fail to comply with these regulations, we and/or our PRC resident participants may be subject to fines and legal sanctions and may also limit our ability to contribute additional capital into our PRC subsidiaries and limit our PRC subsidiaries’ ability to distribute dividends to us. We also face regulatory uncertainties that could restrict our ability to adopt additional incentive plans for our directors, executive officers and employees under PRC law. See “Regulation—Overview of the Laws and Regulations Relating to Our Business and Operations in China—Regulations on Employee Share Incentive Plans of Overseas Publicly-Listed Company.”

PRC regulation of loans to and direct investment in PRC entities by offshore holding companies and governmental control of currency conversion may delay or prevent us from using the proceeds of this offering and the Concurrent Private Placement to make loans or additional capital contributions to our PRC subsidiaries and our VIE and its subsidiaries.

We are an offshore holding company with some of our operations conducted in China. We may make loans to our PRC subsidiaries and VIE subject to the approval, registration, and filing with governmental authorities and limitation of amount, or we may make additional capital contributions to our wholly foreign-owned subsidiaries in China. Any loans to our wholly foreign-owned subsidiaries in China, which are treated as foreign-invested enterprises under PRC law, are subject to foreign exchange loan registrations with the National Development and Reform Commission and SAFE or its local branches. In addition, a foreign invested enterprise shall use its capital pursuant to the principle of authenticity and self-use within its business scope. The capital of a foreign invested enterprise shall not be used for the following purposes: (i) directly or indirectly used for payment beyond the business scope of the enterprises or the payment prohibited by relevant laws and regulations; (ii) directly or indirectly used for investment in securities or investments other than banks’ principal-secured products unless otherwise provided by relevant laws and regulations; (iii) the granting of loans to non-affiliated enterprises, except where it is expressly permitted in the business license; and (iv) paying the expenses related to the purchase of real estate that is not for self-use (except for the foreign-invested real estate enterprises).

In light of the various requirements imposed by PRC regulations on loans to and direct investment in PRC entities by offshore holding companies, we cannot assure you that we will be able to complete the necessary government registrations or obtain the necessary government approvals or filings on a timely basis, if at all, with respect to future loans by us to our PRC subsidiary or VIE or with respect to future capital contributions by us to our PRC subsidiary. If we fail to complete such registrations or obtain such approvals, our ability to use the proceeds from this offering and the Concurrent Private Placement and to capitalize or otherwise fund our PRC operations may be negatively affected, which could adversely affect our liquidity and our ability to fund and expand our business.

 

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We may be treated as a resident enterprise for PRC tax purposes under the PRC Enterprise Income Tax Law, and we may therefore be subject to PRC income tax on our global income.

Under the PRC Enterprise Income Tax Law and its implementation rules, an enterprise established outside the PRC with “de facto management body” within the PRC is considered a “resident enterprise” and will be subject to the enterprise income tax on its global income at the rate of 25%. The implementation rules define the term “de facto management body” as the body that exercises full and substantial control and overall management over the business, productions, personnel, accounts and properties of an enterprise. In 2009, SAT issued a circular, known as SAT Circular 82, which provides certain specific criteria for determining whether the “de facto management body” of a PRC-controlled enterprise that is incorporated offshore is located in China. Although this circular only applies to offshore enterprises controlled by PRC enterprises or PRC enterprise groups, not those controlled by PRC individuals or foreigners, the criteria set forth in the circular may reflect the SAT’s general position on how the “de facto management body” text should be applied in determining the tax resident status of all offshore enterprises. According to SAT Circular 82, an offshore incorporated enterprise controlled by a PRC enterprise or a PRC enterprise group will be regarded as a PRC tax resident by virtue of having its “de facto management body” in China and will be subject to PRC enterprise income tax on its global income only if all of the following conditions are met: (i) the primary location of the day-to-day operational management is in the PRC; (ii) decisions relating to the enterprise’s financial and human resource matters are made or are subject to approval by organizations or personnel in the PRC; (iii) the enterprise’s primary assets, accounting books and records, company seals, and board and shareholder resolutions, are located or maintained in the PRC; and (iv) at least 50% of board members with voting rights or senior executives habitually reside in the PRC.

We believe that our Cayman Islands holding company, Futu Holdings Limited, is not a PRC resident enterprise for PRC tax purposes. However, the tax resident status of an enterprise is subject to determination by the PRC tax authorities and uncertainties remain with respect to the interpretation of the term “de facto management body.” If the PRC tax authorities determine that our Cayman Islands holding company is a PRC resident enterprise for enterprise income tax purposes, we may be required to withhold a 10% tax from dividends we pay to our shareholders that are non-resident enterprises, including the holders of the ADSs. In addition, non-resident enterprise shareholders, including the ADS holders, may be subject to PRC tax at a rate of 10% on gains realized on the sale or other disposition of ADSs or Class A ordinary shares, if such income is treated as sourced from within the PRC. Furthermore, if we are deemed a PRC resident enterprise, dividends paid to our non-PRC individual shareholders, including the ADS holders, and any gain realized on the transfer of ADSs or Class A ordinary shares by such shareholders may be subject to PRC tax at a rate of 20% which in the case of dividends may be withheld at source. Any PRC tax liability may be reduced by an applicable tax treaty. However, it is unclear whether non-PRC shareholders of our company would be able to claim the benefits of any tax treaties between their country of tax residence and the PRC in the event that we are treated as a PRC resident enterprise. Any such tax may reduce the returns on your investment in the ADSs or Class A ordinary shares.

In addition to the uncertainty as to the application of the “resident enterprise” classification, we cannot assure you that the PRC government will not amend or revise the taxation laws, rules and regulations to impose stricter tax requirements or higher tax rates. Any of such changes could materially and adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations.

Dividends payable to our foreign investors and gains on the sale of the ADSs or Class A ordinary shares by our foreign investors may become subject to PRC tax.

Under the Enterprise Income Tax Law and its implementation regulations issued by the State Council, a 10% PRC withholding tax is applicable to dividends payable to investors that are non-resident enterprises, which do not have an establishment or place of business in the PRC or which have such establishment or place of business but the dividends are not effectively connected with such establishment or place of business, to the extent such dividends are derived from sources within the PRC. Similarly, any gain realized on the transfer of

 

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ADSs or Class A ordinary shares by such investors is also subject to PRC tax at a current rate of 10%, subject to any reduction or exemption set forth in applicable tax treaties or under applicable tax arrangements between jurisdictions, if such gain is regarded as income derived from sources within the PRC. If we are deemed a PRC resident enterprise, dividends paid on our Class A ordinary shares or ADSs, and any gain realized from the transfer of our Class A ordinary shares or ADSs, would be treated as income derived from sources within the PRC and would as a result be subject to PRC taxation. Furthermore, if we are deemed a PRC resident enterprise, dividends payable to individual investors who are non-PRC residents and any gain realized on the transfer of ADSs or Class A ordinary shares by such investors may be subject to PRC tax at a current rate of 20%, subject to any reduction or exemption set forth in applicable tax treaties or under applicable tax arrangements between jurisdictions. If we or any of our subsidiaries established outside China are considered a PRC resident enterprise, it is unclear whether holders of the ADSs or Class A ordinary shares would be able to claim the benefit of income tax treaties or agreements entered into between China and other countries or areas. If dividends payable to our non-PRC investors, or gains from the transfer of the ADSs or Class A ordinary shares by such investors, are deemed as income derived from sources within the PRC and thus are subject to PRC tax, the value of your investment in the ADSs or Class A ordinary shares may decline significantly.

We and our shareholders face uncertainties with respect to indirect transfers of equity interests in PRC resident enterprises or other assets attributed to a Chinese establishment of a non-Chinese company, or immovable properties located in China owned by non-Chinese companies.

In February 2015, SAT issued a Public Notice Regarding Certain Corporate Income Tax Matters on Indirect Transfer of Properties by Non-Tax Resident Enterprises, or SAT Public Notice 7. SAT Public Notice 7 extends its tax jurisdiction to transactions involving transfer of other taxable assets through offshore transfer of a foreign intermediate holding company. In addition, SAT Public Notice 7 provides clear criteria for assessment of reasonable commercial purposes and has introduced safe harbors for internal group restructurings and the purchase and sale of equity through a public securities market. SAT Public Notice 7 also brings challenges to both foreign transferor and transferee (or other person who is obligated to pay for the transfer) of taxable assets. In October 2017, SAT issued the Announcement of the State Administration of Taxation on Issues Concerning the Withholding of Non-resident Enterprise Income Tax at Source, or SAT Bulletin 37, which came into effect on December 1, 2017. The SAT Bulletin 37 further clarifies the practice and procedure of the withholding of nonresident enterprise income tax. Where a non-resident enterprise transfers taxable assets indirectly by disposing of the equity interests of an overseas holding company, which is an indirect transfer, the non-resident enterprise as either transferor or transferee, or the PRC entity that directly owns the taxable assets, may report such Indirect Transfer to the relevant tax authority. Using a “substance over form” principle, the PRC tax authority may disregard the existence of the overseas holding company if it lacks a reasonable commercial purpose and was established for the purpose of reducing, avoiding or deferring PRC tax. As a result, gains derived from such indirect transfer other than transfer of Shares of ADSs acquired and sold on public markets may be subject to PRC enterprise income tax, and the transferee or other person who is obligated to pay for the transfer is obligated to withhold the applicable taxes, currently at a rate of 10%. Both the transferor and the transferee may be subject to penalties under PRC tax laws if the transferee fails to withhold the taxes and the transferor fails to pay the taxes.

We face uncertainties as to the reporting and other implications of certain past and future transactions that involve PRC taxable assets, such as offshore restructuring, sale of the shares in our offshore subsidiaries and investments. Our company may be subject to filing obligations or taxed if our company is transferor in such transactions, and may be subject to withholding obligations if our company is transferee in such transactions, under SAT Public Notice 7 or SAT Bulletin 37, or both.

We are subject to PRC restrictions on currency exchange.

Some of our revenues and expenses are denominated in Renminbi. The Renminbi is currently convertible under the “current account,” which includes dividends, trade and service-related foreign exchange transactions,

 

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but not under the “capital account,” which includes foreign direct investment and loans, including loans we may secure from our onshore subsidiaries or VIE. Currently, certain of our PRC subsidiaries may purchase foreign currency for settlement of “current account transactions,” including payment of dividends to us, without the approval of the SAFE by complying with certain procedural requirements. However, the relevant PRC governmental authorities may limit or eliminate our ability to purchase foreign currencies in the future for current account transactions. Foreign exchange transactions under the capital account remain subject to limitations and require approvals from, or registration with, the SAFE and other relevant PRC governmental authorities. Since a part of our future net income and cash flow will be denominated in Renminbi, any existing and future restrictions on currency exchange may limit our ability to utilize cash generated in Renminbi to fund our business activities outside of the PRC or pay dividends in foreign currencies to our shareholders, including holders of the ADSs, and may limit our ability to obtain foreign currency through debt or equity financing for our subsidiaries and VIE.

If the custodians or authorized users of our controlling non-tangible assets, including chops and seals, fail to fulfill their responsibilities, or misappropriate or misuse these assets, our business and operations may be materially and adversely affected.

Under PRC law, legal documents for corporate transactions, including agreements and contracts such as the leases and sales contracts that our business relies on, are executed using the chop or seal of the signing entity or with the signature of a legal representative whose designation is registered and filed with the relevant local branch of the market supervision administration.

In order to maintain the physical security of our chops and the chops of our PRC entities, we generally store these items in secured locations accessible only by the authorized personnel of each of our PRC subsidiary and consolidated entities. Although we monitor such authorized personnel, there is no assurance such procedures will prevent all instances of abuse or negligence. Accordingly, if any of our authorized personnel misuse or misappropriate our corporate chops or seals, we could encounter difficulties in maintaining control over the relevant entities and experience significant disruption to our operations. If a designated legal representative obtains control of the chops in an effort to obtain control over any of our PRC subsidiary or consolidated entities, we, our PRC subsidiaries or consolidated entities would need to pass a new shareholder or board resolution to designate a new legal representative and we would need to take legal action to seek the return of the chops, apply for new chops with the relevant authorities, or otherwise seek legal redress for the violation of the representative’s fiduciary duties to us, which could involve significant time and resources and divert management attention away from our regular business. In addition, the affected entity may not be able to recover corporate assets that are sold or transferred out of our control in the event of such a misappropriation if a transferee relies on the apparent authority of the representative and acts in good faith.

The audit report included in this prospectus is prepared by an auditor who is not inspected by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board and, as such, our investors are deprived of the benefits of such inspection.

Our independent registered public accounting firm that issues the audit report included in our prospectus filed with the SEC, as auditors of companies that are traded publicly in the United States and a firm registered with the U.S. Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, or the PCAOB, is required by the laws of the United States to undergo regular inspections by the PCAOB to assess its compliance with the laws of the United States and professional standards. Because our auditors are located in the People’s Republic of China, a jurisdiction where the PCAOB is currently unable to conduct inspections without the approval of the Chinese authorities, our auditors are not currently inspected by the PCAOB. On December 7, 2018, the SEC and the PCAOB issued a joint statement highlighting continued challenges faced by the U.S. regulators in their oversight of financial statement audits of U.S.-listed companies with significant operations in China. The joint statement reflects a heightened interest in an issue that has vexed U.S. regulators in recent years. However, it remains unclear what further actions the SEC and PCAOB will take to address the problem.

 

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Inspections of other firms that the PCAOB has conducted outside China have identified deficiencies in those firms’ audit procedures and quality control procedures, which may be addressed as part of the inspection process to improve future audit quality. This lack of PCAOB inspections in China prevents the PCAOB from regularly evaluating our auditor’s audits and its quality control procedures. As a result, investors may be deprived of the benefits of PCAOB inspections.

The inability of the PCAOB to conduct inspections of auditors in China makes it more difficult to evaluate the effectiveness of our auditor’s audit procedures or quality control procedures as compared to auditors outside of China that are subject to PCAOB inspections. Investors may lose confidence in our reported financial information and procedures and the quality of our consolidated financial statements.

If additional remedial measures are imposed on the “big four” PRC-based accounting firms, including our independent registered public accounting firm, in administrative proceedings brought by the SEC alleging such firms’ failure to meet specific criteria set by the SEC with respect to requests for the production of documents, we could be unable to timely file future financial statements in compliance with the requirements of the Exchange Act.

Starting in 2011 the Chinese affiliates of the “big four” accounting firms, including our independent registered public accounting firm, were affected by a conflict between US and Chinese law. Specifically, for certain US-listed companies operating and audited in mainland China, the SEC and the PCAOB sought to obtain from the Chinese firms access to their audit work papers and related documents. The firms were, however, advised and directed that under China law they could not respond directly to the US regulators on those requests, and that requests by foreign regulators for access to such papers in China had to be channeled through the CSRC.

In late 2012, this impasse led the SEC to commence administrative proceedings under Rule 102(e) of its Rules of Practice and also under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act against the Chinese accounting firms, (including our independent registered public accounting firm). A first instance trial of the proceedings in July 2013 in the SEC’s internal administrative court resulted in an adverse judgment against the firms. The administrative law judge proposed penalties on the firms including a temporary suspension of their right to practice before the SEC, although that proposed penalty was subject to the pending review of the SEC Commissioner. On February 6, 2015, prior to the SEC Commissioner’s scheduled review, the firms reached a settlement with the SEC. Under the settlement, the SEC agreed that its future requests for the production of documents would normally be made to the CSRC. The firms would receive matching requests under Section 106 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, and are required to abide by a detailed set of procedures with respect to such requests, which in substance required them to facilitate production via the CSRC. If they fail to meet the specified criteria, the SEC retains the authority to impose a variety of additional remedial measures on the firms depending on the nature of the failure. Remedies for any future noncompliance could include, as appropriate, an automatic six-month bar on a single firm’s performance of certain audit work, commencement of a new proceeding against the firm, or in extreme cases, the resumption of the current proceeding against all four “big four” accounting firms.

Risks Related to the ADSs and this Offering

There has been no public market for our shares or the ADSs prior to this offering, and you may not be able to resell ADSs at or above the price you paid, or at all.

Prior to this offering, there has been no public market for the ADSs or our ordinary shares underlying the ADSs. If an active public market for the ADSs does not develop after this offering, the market price of the ADSs may decline and the liquidity of the ADSs may decrease significantly. Although the ADSs have been approved for listing on Nasdaq Global Market, we cannot assure you that a liquid public market for the ADSs will develop.

The initial public offering price for the ADSs was determined by negotiation between us and the underwriters based upon several factors, and we cannot assure you that the price at which the ADSs are traded after this offering will not decline below the initial public offering price.

 

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In addition, Nasdaq Global Market has from time to time experienced significant price and volume fluctuations that have affected the market prices for the securities of technology companies, particularly internet-related companies. As a result, investors in our securities may experience a decrease in the value of their ADSs regardless of our operating performance or prospects. In the past, following periods of volatility in the market price of a company’s securities, shareholders have often instituted securities class actions against that company. If we are involved in a class-action lawsuit, it could divert the attention of our senior management and, if adversely determined, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

The trading price of the ADSs may be volatile, which could result in substantial losses to you.

The trading prices of the ADSs are likely to be volatile and could fluctuate widely due to factors beyond our control. This may happen because of broad market and industry factors, like the performance and fluctuation in the market prices or the underperformance or deteriorating financial results of other listed companies based in Hong Kong and China. The securities of some of these companies have experienced significant volatility since their initial public offerings, including, in some cases, substantial price declines in the trading prices of their securities. The trading performances of other Chinese companies’ securities after their offerings, including Internet companies, online retail and mobile commerce platforms and consumer finance service providers, may affect the attitudes of investors toward Chinese companies listed in the United States, which consequently may impact the trading performance of the ADSs, regardless of our actual operating performance. In addition, any negative news or perceptions about inadequate corporate governance practices or fraudulent accounting, corporate structure or matters of other Chinese companies may also negatively affect the attitudes of investors towards Chinese companies in general, including us, regardless of whether we have conducted any inappropriate activities. Furthermore, securities markets may from time to time experience significant price and volume fluctuations that are not related to our operating performance, such as the large decline in share prices in the United States, China and other jurisdictions in late 2008, early 2009, the second half of 2011, 2015, and the fourth quarter of 2018, which may have a material and adverse effect on the trading price of the ADSs.

In addition to the above factors, the price and trading volume of the ADSs may be highly volatile due to multiple factors, including the following:

 

   

regulatory developments affecting us or our industry;

 

   

announcements of studies and reports relating to the quality of our credit offerings or those of our competitors;

 

   

changes in the economic performance or market valuations of other consumer finance service providers;

 

   

actual or anticipated fluctuations in our quarterly results of operations and changes or revisions of our expected results;

 

   

changes in financial estimates by securities research analysts;

 

   

conditions in the market for consumer finance services;

 

   

announcements by us or our competitors of new product and service offerings, acquisitions, strategic relationships, joint ventures, capital raisings or capital commitments;

 

   

additions to or departures of our senior management;

 

   

fluctuations of exchange rates between the Renminbi and the U.S. dollar;

 

   

release or expiry of lock-up or other transfer restrictions on our outstanding shares or the ADSs; and

 

   

sales or perceived potential sales of additional ordinary shares or ADSs.

 

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Our proposed dual-class voting structure will limit your ability to influence corporate matters and could discourage others from pursuing any change of control transactions that holders of our Class A ordinary shares and the ADSs may view as beneficial.

Our authorized share capital will be divided into Class A ordinary shares and Class B ordinary shares immediately prior to the completion of this offering. Holders of Class A ordinary shares will be entitled to one vote per share, while holders of Class B ordinary shares will be entitled to twenty votes per share. We will issue Class A ordinary shares represented by the ADSs in this offering. Each Class B ordinary share is convertible into one Class A ordinary share at any time by the holder thereof, while Class A ordinary shares are not convertible into Class B ordinary shares under any circumstances. Upon any sale, transfer, assignment or disposition of any Class B ordinary shares by a holder thereof to any non-affiliate of such holder, each of such Class B ordinary shares will be automatically and immediately converted into one Class A ordinary share.

Immediately prior to the completion of this offering, Mr. Leaf Hua Li, our founder, chairman of the board of directors and chief executive officer, and Qiantang River Investment Limited, an existing shareholder of ours will beneficially own all of our issued Class B ordinary shares. These Class B ordinary shares will constitute approximately 61.3% of our total issued and outstanding share capital immediately after the completion of this offering and 96.9% of the aggregate voting power of our total issued and outstanding share capital immediately after the completion of this offering due to the disparate voting powers associated with our dual-class share structure, assuming the underwriters do not exercise their over-allotment option. As a result of the dual-class share structure and the concentration of ownership, holders of Class B ordinary shares will have considerable influence over matters such as decisions regarding mergers and consolidations, election of directors and other significant corporate actions. Such holders may take actions that are not in the best interest of us or our other shareholders. This concentration of ownership may discourage, delay or prevent a change in control of our company, which could have the effect of depriving our other shareholders of the opportunity to receive a premium for their shares as part of a sale of our company and may reduce the price of the ADSs. This concentrated control will limit your ability to influence corporate matters and could discourage others from pursuing any potential merger, takeover or other change of control transactions that holders of Class A ordinary shares and ADSs may view as beneficial.

If securities or industry analysts do not publish research or publish inaccurate or unfavorable research about our business, the market price for the ADSs and trading volume could decline.

The trading market for the ADSs will depend in part on the research and reports that securities or industry analysts publish about us or our business. If research analysts do not establish and maintain adequate research coverage or if one or more of the analysts who covers us downgrades the ADSs or publishes inaccurate or unfavorable research about our business, the market price for the ADSs would likely decline. If one or more of these analysts cease coverage of our company or fail to publish reports on us regularly, we could lose visibility in the financial markets, which, in turn, could cause the market price or trading volume for the ADSs to decline.

The depositary for the ADSs will give us a discretionary proxy to vote our Class A ordinary shares underlying your ADSs if you do not vote at shareholders’ meetings, except under limited circumstances, which could adversely affect your interests.

Under the deposit agreement for the ADSs, if you do not give instructions for voting the Class A ordinary shares underlying your ADSs, the depositary will give us a discretionary proxy to vote those Class A ordinary shares at the shareholders’ meeting if:

 

   

we have timely instructed the depositary to disseminate a notice of meeting and provided the depositary with a notice of meeting and related voting materials;

 

   

we have instructed the depositary that we wish a discretionary proxy to be given;

 

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we have informed the depositary that as of the instruction date we reasonably don’t know of any substantial opposition as to a matter to be voted on at the meeting; and

 

   

a matter to be voted on at the meeting would not have a material adverse impact on shareholders’ interests.

The effect of this discretionary proxy is that you cannot prevent our Class A ordinary shares underlying your ADSs from being voted at the shareholder meeting if the circumstances described above are met. This may make it more difficult for shareholders to influence the management of our company. Holders of our ordinary shares are not subject to this discretionary proxy.

As our initial public offering price is substantially higher than our net tangible book value per share, you will experience immediate and substantial dilution.

If you purchase ADSs in this offering, you will pay more for your ADSs than the amount paid by existing shareholders for their ordinary shares on a per ADS basis. As a result, you will experience immediate and substantial dilution of approximately US$9.40 per ADS (assuming no exercise of outstanding options to acquire ordinary shares), representing the difference between our pro forma net tangible book value per ADS of US$2.60 as of December 31, 2018, after giving effect to this offering and the Concurrent Private Placement, and the initial public offering price per share of US$12.00 per ADS. In addition, you may experience further dilution to the extent that our ordinary shares are issued upon the exercise of share options. Substantially all of the ordinary shares issuable upon the exercise of currently outstanding share options will be issued at a purchase price on a per ADS basis that is less than the initial public offering price per ADS in this offering. See “Dilution” for a more complete description of how the value of your investment in the ADSs will be diluted upon the completion of this offering and the Concurrent Private Placement.

Because we do not expect to pay dividends in the foreseeable future after this offering, you must rely on price appreciation of the ADSs for return on your investment.

We currently intend to retain most, if not all, of our available funds and any future earnings after this offering to fund the development and growth of our business. As a result, we do not expect to pay any cash dividends in the foreseeable future. See “Dividend Policy.” Therefore, you should not rely on an investment in the ADSs as a source for any future dividend income.

Our board of directors has complete discretion as to whether to distribute dividends. In addition, our shareholders may by ordinary resolution declare a dividend, but no dividend may exceed the amount recommended by our board of directors. In either case, all dividends are subject to certain restrictions under Cayman Islands law, namely that our company may only pay dividends out of profits or share premium, and provided that in no circumstances may a dividend be paid if this would result in our company being unable to pay its debts as they fall due in the ordinary course of business. Even if we decide to declare and pay dividends, the timing, amount and form of future dividends, if any, will depend on, among other things, our future results of operations and cash flow, our capital requirements and surplus, the amount of distributions, if any, received by us from our subsidiaries, our financial condition, contractual restrictions and other factors deemed relevant by our board of directors. Accordingly, the return on your investment in the ADSs will likely depend entirely upon any future price appreciation of the ADSs. There is no guarantee that the ADSs will appreciate in value after this offering or even maintain the price at which you purchased the ADSs. You may not realize a return on your investment in the ADSs and you may even lose your entire investment in the ADSs.

Substantial future sales or perceived potential sales of the ADSs in the public market could cause the price of the ADSs to decline.

Sales of substantial amounts of the ADSs in the public market after the completion of this offering, or the perception that these sales could occur, could adversely affect the market price of the ADSs and could materially

 

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impair our future ability to raise capital through equity offerings in the future. There will be 7,500,000 ADSs (equivalent to 60,000,000 Class A ordinary shares) outstanding immediately after this offering, or 8,625,000 ADSs (equivalent to 69,000,000 Class A ordinary shares) if the underwriters exercise their option to purchase additional ADSs in full. All of the ADSs sold in this offering will be freely tradable without any restriction or further registration under the U.S. Securities Act of 1933, as amended, or the Securities Act, unless held by our “affiliates” as that term is defined in Rule 144 under the Securities Act. All of our shares outstanding prior to this offering are “restricted securities” as defined in Rule 144 and, in the absence of registration, may not be sold other than in accordance with Rule 144 under the Securities Act or another exemption from registration.

The voting rights of holders of ADSs are limited by the terms of the deposit agreement, and you may not be able to exercise your right to direct how the Class A ordinary shares which are represented by your ADSs are voted.

Holders of ADSs do not have the same rights as our registered shareholders. As a holder of ADSs, you will not have any right to attend general meetings of our shareholders or to cast any votes at such meetings. You will only be able to exercise the voting rights which are carried by the underlying Class A ordinary shares represented by your ADSs indirectly by giving voting instructions to the depositary in accordance with the provisions of the deposit agreement. Under the deposit agreement, you may vote only by giving voting instructions to the depositary. If we instruct the depositary to ask for your instructions, then upon receipt of your voting instructions, the depositary will try, as far as practicable, to vote the underlying Class A ordinary shares which are represented by your ADSs, in accordance with your instructions. If we do not instruct the depositary to ask for your instructions, the depositary may still vote in accordance with instructions you give, but it is not required to do so. You will not be able to directly exercise your right to vote with respect to the underlying Class A ordinary shares represented by your ADSs unless you withdraw the shares and become the registered holder of such shares prior to the record date for the general meeting. Under our post-offering amended and restated memorandum and articles of association which will become effective immediately prior to the completion of this offering, the minimum notice period required for convening a general meeting is 10 days. When a general meeting is convened, you may not receive sufficient advance notice of the meeting to withdraw the shares underlying your ADSs and to vote directly with respect to any specific matter or resolution to be considered and voted upon at the general meeting. In addition, under our post-offering memorandum and articles of association that will become effective immediately prior to completion of this offering, for the purposes of determining those shareholders who are entitled to attend and vote at any general meeting, our directors may close our register of members and/or fix in advance a record date for such meeting, and such closure of our register of members or the setting of such a record date may prevent you from withdrawing the Class A ordinary shares underlying your ADSs and becoming the registered holder of such shares prior to the record date, so that you would not be able to attend the general meeting or to vote directly. If we ask for your instructions, the depositary will notify you of the upcoming vote and will arrange to deliver our voting materials to you. We have agreed to give the depositary at least 30 days’ prior notice of shareholder meetings. Nevertheless, we cannot assure you that you will receive the voting materials in time to ensure that you can instruct the depositary to vote the underlying shares represented by your ADSs. In addition, the depositary and its agents are not responsible for failing to carry out voting instructions or for their manner of carrying out your voting instructions. This means that you may not be able to exercise your right to direct how the shares underlying your ADSs are voted and you may have no legal remedy if the shares underlying your ADSs are not voted as you requested.

Your right to participate in any future rights offerings may be limited, which may cause dilution to your holdings.

We may from time to time distribute rights to our shareholders, including rights to acquire our securities. However, we cannot make rights available to you in the United States unless we register both the rights and the securities to which the rights relate under the Securities Act or an exemption from the registration requirements is available. Under the deposit agreement, the depositary will not make rights available to you unless both the rights and the underlying securities to be distributed to ADS holders are either registered under the Securities Act or

 

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exempt from registration under the Securities Act. We are under no obligation to file a registration statement with respect to any such rights or securities or to endeavor to cause such a registration statement to be declared effective and we may not be able to establish a necessary exemption from registration under the Securities Act. Accordingly, you may be unable to participate in our rights offerings in the future and may experience dilution in your holdings.

You may not receive cash dividends if the depositary decides it is impractical to make them available to you.

The depositary will pay cash distributions on the ADSs only to the extent that we decide to distribute dividends on our Class A ordinary shares or other deposited securities, and we do not have any present plan to pay any cash dividends in the foreseeable future. See “Dividend Policy.” To the extent that there is a distribution, the depositary has agreed to pay to you the cash dividends or other distributions it or the custodian receives on our Class A ordinary shares or other deposited securities after deducting its fees and expenses. You will receive these distributions in proportion to the number of Class A ordinary shares your ADSs represent. However, the depositary may, at its discretion, decide that it is inequitable or impractical to make a distribution available to any holders of ADSs. For example, the depositary may determine that it is not practicable to distribute certain property through the mail, or that the value of certain distributions may be less than the cost of mailing them. In these cases, the depositary may decide not to distribute such property to you.

We and the depository are entitled to amend the deposit agreement and to change the rights of ADS holders under the terms of such agreement, and we may terminate the deposit agreement, without the prior consent of the ADS holders.

We and the depository are entitled to amend the deposit agreement and to change the rights of the ADS holders under the terms of such agreement, without the prior consent of the ADS holders. We and the depositary may agree to amend the deposit agreement in any way we decide is necessary or advantageous to us. Amendments may reflect, among other things, operational changes in the ADS program, legal developments affecting ADSs or changes in the terms of our business relationship with the depositary. In the event that the terms of an amendment are disadvantageous to ADS holders, ADS holders will only receive 30 days’ advance notice of the amendment, and no prior consent of the ADS holders is required under the deposit agreement. Furthermore, we may decide to terminate the ADS facility at any time for any reason. For example, terminations may occur when we decide to list our shares on a non-U.S. securities exchange and determine not to continue to sponsor an ADS facility or when we become the subject of a takeover or a going-private transaction. If the ADS facility will terminate, ADS holders will receive at least 90 days’ prior notice, but no prior consent is required from them. Under the circumstances that we decide to make an amendment to the deposit agreement that is disadvantageous to ADS holders or terminate the deposit agreement, the ADS holders may choose to sell their ADSs or surrender their ADSs and become direct holders of the underlying Class A ordinary shares, but will have no right to any compensation whatsoever.

ADSs holders may not be entitled to a jury trial with respect to claims arising under the deposit agreement, which could result in less favorable outcomes to the plaintiff(s) in any such action.

The deposit agreement governing the ADSs representing our Class A ordinary shares provides that, to the fullest extent permitted by law, ADS holders waive the right to a jury trial of any claim they may have against us or the depositary arising out of or relating to our shares, the ADSs or the deposit agreement, including any claim under the U.S. federal securities laws.

If we or the depositary opposed a jury trial demand based on the waiver, the court would determine whether the waiver was enforceable based on the facts and circumstances of that case in accordance with the applicable state and federal law. To our knowledge, the enforceability of a contractual pre-dispute jury trial waiver in connection with claims arising under the federal securities laws has not been finally adjudicated by the United States Supreme Court. However, we believe that a contractual pre-dispute jury trial waiver provision is generally

 

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enforceable, including under the laws of the State of New York, which govern the deposit agreement, by a federal or state court in the City of New York, which has non-exclusive jurisdiction over matters arising under the deposit agreement. In determining whether to enforce a contractual pre-dispute jury trial waiver provision, courts will generally consider whether a party knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily waived the right to a jury trial. We believe that this is the case with respect to the deposit agreement and the ADSs. It is advisable that you consult legal counsel regarding the jury waiver provision before entering into the deposit agreement.

If you or any other holders or beneficial owners of ADSs bring a claim against us or the depositary in connection with matters arising under the deposit agreement or the ADSs, including claims under federal securities laws, you or such other holder or beneficial owner may not be entitled to a jury trial with respect to such claims, which may have the effect of limiting and discouraging lawsuits against us and/or the depositary. If a lawsuit is brought against us and/or the depositary under the deposit agreement, it may be heard only by a judge or justice of the applicable trial court, which would be conducted according to different civil procedures and may result in different outcomes than a trial by jury would have had, including results that could be less favorable to the plaintiff(s) in any such action.

Nevertheless, if this jury trial waiver provision is not permitted by applicable law, an action could proceed under the terms of the deposit agreement with a jury trial. No condition, stipulation or provision of the deposit agreement or ADSs serves as a waiver by any holder or beneficial owner of ADSs or by us or the depositary of compliance with any substantive provision of the U.S. federal securities laws and the rules and regulations promulgated thereunder.

You may be subject to limitations on transfer of your ADSs.

Your ADSs are transferable on the books of the depositary. However, the depositary may close its books at any time or from time to time when it deems it expedient in connection with the performance of its duties. The depositary may close its books from time to time for a number of reasons, including in connection with corporate events such as a rights offering, during which time the depositary needs to maintain an exact number of ADS holders on its books for a specified period. The depositary may also close its books in emergencies, and on weekends and public holidays. The depositary may refuse to deliver, transfer or register transfers of the ADSs generally when our share register or the books of the depositary are closed, or at any time if we or the depositary thinks it is advisable to do so because of any requirement of law or of any government or governmental body, or under any provision of the deposit agreement, or for any other reason.

Certain judgments obtained against us by our shareholders may not be enforceable.

We are an exempted company incorporated under the laws of the Cayman Islands. We conduct our operations outside the United States and substantially all of our assets are located outside the United States. In addition, substantially all of our directors and executive officers and the experts named in this prospectus reside outside the United States, and most of their assets are located outside the United States. As a result, it may be difficult or impossible for you to bring an action against us or against them in the United States in the event that you believe that your rights have been infringed under the U.S. federal securities laws or otherwise. Even if you are successful in bringing an action of this kind, the laws of the Cayman Islands, Hong Kong, China or other relevant jurisdiction may render you unable to enforce a judgment against our assets or the assets of our directors and officers. For more information regarding the relevant laws of the Cayman Islands and China, see “Enforceability of Civil Liabilities.”

You may face difficulties in protecting your interests, and your ability to protect your rights through U.S. courts may be limited, because we are incorporated under Cayman Islands law.

We are an exempted company limited by shares incorporated under the laws of the Cayman Islands. Our corporate affairs are governed by our memorandum and articles of association, the Companies Law (2018

 

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Revision) of the Cayman Islands and the common law of the Cayman Islands. The rights of shareholders to take action against our directors, actions by our minority shareholders and the fiduciary duties of our directors to us under Cayman Islands law are to a large extent governed by the common law of the Cayman Islands. The common law of the Cayman Islands is derived in part from comparatively limited judicial precedent in the Cayman Islands as well as from the common law of England, the decisions of whose courts are of persuasive authority, but are not binding, on a court in the Cayman Islands. The rights of our shareholders and the fiduciary duties of our directors under Cayman Islands law are not as clearly established as they would be under statutes or judicial precedent in some jurisdictions in the United States. In particular, the Cayman Islands has a less developed body of securities laws than the United States. Some U.S. states, such as Delaware, have more fully developed and judicially interpreted bodies of corporate law than the Cayman Islands. In addition, Cayman Islands companies may not have standing to initiate a shareholder derivative action in a federal court of the United States.

Shareholders of Cayman Islands exempted companies like us have no general rights under Cayman Islands law to inspect corporate records, other than the Memorandum and Articles of Association and any special resolutions passed by such companies, and the registers of mortgages and charges of such companies, or to obtain copies of lists of shareholders of these companies. Our directors have discretion under our post-offering memorandum and articles of association to determine whether or not, and under what conditions, our corporate records may be inspected by our shareholders, but are not obliged to make them available to our shareholders. This may make it more difficult for you to obtain the information needed to establish any facts necessary for a shareholder motion or to solicit proxies from other shareholders in connection with a proxy contest.

Certain corporate governance practices in the Cayman Islands, which is our home country, differ significantly from requirements for companies incorporated in other jurisdictions such as the United States. Currently, we do not plan to rely on home country practice with respect to our corporate governance after we complete this offering. However, if we choose to follow home country practice in the future, our shareholders may be afforded less protection than they otherwise would under rules and regulations applicable to U.S. domestic issuers.

As a result of all of the above, public shareholders may have more difficulty in protecting their interests in the face of actions taken by our management, members of our board of directors or our controlling shareholders than they would as public shareholders of a company incorporated in the United States. For a discussion of significant differences between the provisions of the Companies Law of the Cayman Islands and the laws applicable to companies incorporated in the United States and their shareholders, see “Description of Share Capital—Differences in Corporate Law.”

Our amended and restated memorandum and articles of association contain anti-takeover provisions that could discourage a third party from acquiring us, which could limit our shareholders’ opportunity to sell their shares, including Class A ordinary shares represented by the ADSs, at a premium.

We have adopted an amended and restated memorandum and articles of association that will become effective immediately prior to completion of this offering. Our post-offering memorandum and articles of association will contain provisions to limit the ability of others to acquire control of our company or cause us to engage in change-of-control transactions. These provisions could have the effect of depriving our shareholders of an opportunity to sell their shares at a premium over prevailing market prices by discouraging third parties from seeking to obtain control of our company in a tender offer or similar transaction. For example, our board of directors has the authority, without further action by our shareholders, to issue preferred shares in one or more series and to fix their designations, powers, preferences, privileges, and relative participating, optional or special rights and the qualifications, limitations or restrictions, including dividend rights, conversion rights, voting rights, terms of redemption and liquidation preferences, any or all of which may be greater than the rights associated with our ordinary shares, in the form of the ADS or otherwise. Preferred shares could be issued quickly with terms calculated to delay or prevent a change in control of our company or make removal of

 

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management more difficult. If our board of directors decides to issue preferred shares, the price of the ADSs may fall and the voting and other rights of the holders of our ordinary shares and the ADSs may be materially and adversely affected.

We are a foreign private issuer within the meaning of the rules under the Exchange Act, and as such we are exempt from certain provisions applicable to U.S. domestic public companies.

Because we qualify as a foreign private issuer under the Exchange Act, we are exempt from certain provisions of the securities rules and regulations in the United States that are applicable to U.S. domestic issuers, including:

 

   

the rules under the Exchange Act requiring the filing with the SEC of quarterly reports on Form 10-Q or current reports on Form 8-K;

 

   

the sections of the Exchange Act regulating the solicitation of proxies, consents, or authorizations in respect of a security registered under the Exchange Act;

 

   

the sections of the Exchange Act requiring insiders to file public reports of their stock ownership and trading activities and liability for insiders who profit from trades made in a short period of time; and

 

   

the selective disclosure rules by issuers of material nonpublic information under Regulation FD.

We will be required to file an annual report on Form 20-F within four months of the end of each fiscal year. In addition, we intend to publish our results on a quarterly basis as press releases, distributed pursuant to the rules and regulations of the Nasdaq Global Market. Press releases relating to financial results and material events will also be furnished to the SEC on Form 6-K. However, the information we are required to file with or furnish to the SEC will be less extensive and less timely compared to that required to be filed with the SEC by U.S. domestic issuers. As a result, you may not be afforded the same protections or information that would be made available to you were you investing in a U.S. domestic issuer.

As a company incorporated in the Cayman Islands, we are permitted to adopt certain home country practices in relation to corporate governance matters that differ significantly from the Nasdaq listing standards; these practices may afford less protection to shareholders than they would enjoy if we complied fully with the Nasdaq listing standards.

As a Cayman Islands company listed on the Nasdaq Global Market, we are subject to the Nasdaq listing standards. However, the Nasdaq rules permit a foreign private issuer like us to follow the corporate governance practices of its home country. Certain corporate governance practices in the Cayman Islands, which is our home country, may differ significantly from the Nasdaq listing standards. Currently, we do not plan to rely on home country practices with respect to our corporate governance after we complete this offering. However, if we choose to follow home country practices in the future, our shareholders may be afforded less protection than they would otherwise enjoy under the Nasdaq listing standards applicable to U.S. domestic issuers.

We will be a “controlled company” within the meaning of the Nasdaq Stock Market Rules and, as a result, can rely on exemptions from certain corporate governance requirements that provide protection to shareholders of other companies.

Upon the completion of this offering, we will be a “controlled company” as defined under the Nasdaq Stock Market Rules because Mr. Leaf Hua Li, our founder, chairman of the board of directors and chief executive officer, will own more than 50% of our total voting power. For so long as we remain a controlled company under that definition, we are permitted to elect to rely, and may rely, on certain exemptions from corporate governance rules. As a result, you may not have the same protection afforded to shareholders of companies that are subject to these corporate governance requirements.

 

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The dual-class structure of our ordinary shares may adversely affect the trading market for our ADSs.

Certain shareholder advisory firms have announced changes to their eligibility criteria for inclusion of shares of public companies on certain indices, including the S&P 500, to exclude companies with multiple classes of shares and companies whose public shareholders hold no more than 5% of total voting power from being added to such indices. In addition, several shareholder advisory firms have announced their opposition to the use of multiple class structures. As a result, the dual class structure of our ordinary shares may prevent the inclusion of our ADSs representing Class A ordinary shares in such indices and may cause shareholder advisory firms to publish negative commentary about our corporate governance practices or otherwise seek to cause us to change our capital structure. Any such exclusion from indices could result in a less active trading market for our ADSs. Any actions or publications by shareholder advisory firms critical of our corporate governance practices or capital structure could also adversely affect the value of our ADSs.

We have not determined a specific use for a portion of the net proceeds from this offering and the Concurrent Private Placement, and we may use these proceeds in ways with which you may not agree.

We have not determined a specific use for a portion of the net proceeds of this offering and the Concurrent Private Placement, and our management will have considerable discretion in deciding how to apply these proceeds. You will not have the opportunity to assess whether the proceeds are being used appropriately before you make your investment decision. You must rely on the judgment of our management regarding the application of the net proceeds of this offering and the Concurrent Private Placement. We cannot assure you that the net proceeds will be used in a manner that will improve our results of operations or increase the ADS price, nor that these net proceeds will be placed only in investments that generate income or appreciate in value.

There can be no assurance that we will not be a passive foreign investment company, or PFIC, for United States federal income tax purposes for any taxable year, which could subject United States investors in the ADSs or ordinary shares to significant adverse United States income tax consequences.

We will be classified as a passive foreign investment company, or PFIC, for any taxable year if either (a) 75% or more of our gross income for such year consists of certain types of “passive” income or (b) 50% or more of the value of our assets (determined on the basis of a quarterly average) during such year produce or are held for the production of passive income (the “asset test”). Although the law in this regard is unclear, we intend to treat our VIE (including its subsidiary) as being owned by us for United States federal income tax purposes, not only because we exercise effective control over the operation of such entities but also because we are entitled to substantially all of their economic benefits, and, as a result, we consolidate their results of operations in our consolidated financial statements. Assuming that we are the owner of our VIE (including its subsidiary) for United States federal income tax purposes, and based upon our current and expected income and assets, including goodwill (taking into account the expected proceeds from this offering) and projections as to the market price of the ADSs following the offering, we do not presently expect to be a PFIC for the current taxable year or the foreseeable future.

While we do not expect to become a PFIC, because the value of our assets for purposes of the asset test may be determined by reference to the market price of the ADSs, fluctuations in the market price of the ADSs may cause us to become a PFIC for the current or subsequent taxable years. The determination of whether we will be or become a PFIC will also depend, in part, on the composition and classification of our income and assets. Because there are uncertainties in the application of the relevant rules, it is possible that the IRS may challenge our classification of certain income and assets as non-passive which may result in our being or becoming a PFIC in the current or subsequent years. In addition, the composition of our income and assets will also be affected by how, and how quickly, we use our liquid assets and the cash raised in this offering. If we determine not to deploy significant amounts of cash for active purposes or if it were determined that we do not own the stock of our VIE for United States federal income tax purposes, our risk of being a PFIC may substantially increase. Because there are uncertainties in the application of the relevant rules and PFIC status is a factual determination made annually

 

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after the close of each taxable year, there can be no assurance that we will not be a PFIC for the current taxable year or any future taxable year.

If we are a PFIC in any taxable year, a U.S. Holder (as defined in “Taxation—United States Federal Income Tax Considerations”) may incur significantly increased United States income tax on gain recognized on the sale or other disposition of the ADSs or ordinary shares and on the receipt of distributions on the ADSs or ordinary shares to the extent such gain or distribution is treated as an “excess distribution” under the United States federal income tax rules and such holder may be subject to burdensome reporting requirements. Further, if we are a PFIC for any year during which a U.S. Holder holds the ADSs or our ordinary shares, we generally will continue to be treated as a PFIC for all succeeding years during which such U.S. Holder holds the ADSs or our ordinary shares. For more information see “Taxation—United States Federal Income Tax Considerations—Passive Foreign Investment Company Rules.”

We will incur increased costs as a result of being a public company, particularly after we cease to qualify as an “emerging growth company.”

We are now a public company in the United States and expect to incur significant legal, accounting and other expenses that we did not incur as a private company. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, as well as rules subsequently implemented by the SEC and Nasdaq Global Market, impose various requirements on the corporate governance practices of public companies. As a company with less than US$1.07 billion in revenues for our last fiscal year, we qualify as an “emerging growth company” pursuant to the JOBS Act. An emerging growth company may take advantage of specified reduced reporting and other requirements that are otherwise applicable generally to public companies. These provisions include exemption from the auditor attestation requirement under Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, or Section 404, in the assessment of the emerging growth company’s internal control over financial reporting. The JOBS Act also permits an emerging growth company to delay adopting new or revised accounting standards until such time as those standards apply to private companies. However, we have elected to “opt out” of this provision and, as a result, we will comply with new or revised accounting standards as required when they are adopted for public companies. This decision to opt out of the extended transition period under the JOBS Act is irrevocable.

We expect these rules and regulations to increase our legal and financial compliance costs and to make some corporate activities more time-consuming and costly. After we are no longer an “emerging growth company,” we expect to incur significant expenses and devote substantial management effort toward ensuring compliance with the requirements of Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 and the other rules and regulations of the SEC. For example, as a result of being a public company, we need to increase the number of independent directors and adopt policies regarding internal controls and disclosure controls and procedures. We also expect that operating as a public company will make it more difficult and more expensive for us to obtain director and officer liability insurance, and we may be required to accept reduced policy limits and coverage or incur substantially higher costs to obtain the same or similar coverage. In addition, we will incur additional costs associated with our public company reporting requirements. It may also be more difficult for us to find qualified persons to serve on our board of directors or as executive officers. We are currently evaluating and monitoring developments with respect to these rules and regulations, and we cannot predict or estimate with any degree of certainty the amount of additional costs we may incur or the timing of such costs.

 

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SPECIAL NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

This prospectus contains forward-looking statements that reflect our current expectations and views of future events. The forward looking statements are contained principally in the sections entitled “Prospectus Summary,” “Risk Factors,” “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and “Business.” Known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors, including those listed under “Risk Factors,” may cause our actual results, performance or achievements to be materially different from those expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements.

You can identify some of these forward-looking statements by words or phrases such as “may,” “will,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “aim,” “estimate,” “intend,” “plan,” “believe,” “is/are likely to,” “potential,” “continue” or other similar expressions. We have based these forward-looking statements largely on our current expectations and projections about future events that we believe may affect our financial condition, results of operations, business strategy and financial needs. These forward-looking statements include statements relating to:

 

   

our mission, goals and strategies;

 

   

our future business development, financial conditions and results of operations;

 

   

the trends in, expected growth and the market size of the online and mobile trading and other financial services industry, both in Hong Kong and globally;

 

   

expected changes in our revenues, costs or expenditures;

 

   

our expectations regarding demand for and market acceptance of our products and services;

 

   

our expectations regarding our relationships with users, clients and third-party business partners;

 

   

competition in our industry;

 

   

our proposed use of proceeds;

 

   

relevant government policies and regulations relating to our industry; and

 

   

general economic and business conditions in the markets we have businesses.

These forward-looking statements involve various risks and uncertainties. Although we believe that our expectations expressed in these forward-looking statements are reasonable, our expectations and our actual results could be materially different from our expectations. Important risks and factors that could cause our actual results to be materially different from our expectations are generally set forth in “Prospectus Summary—Our Challenges,” “Risk Factors,” “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations,” “Business,” “Regulation” and other sections in this prospectus. Moreover, we operate in an evolving environment. New risk factors and uncertainties emerge from time to time and it is not possible for our management to predict all risk factors and uncertainties, nor can we assess the impact of all factors on our business or the extent to which any factor, or combination of factors, may cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statements. You should read thoroughly this prospectus and the documents that we refer to with the understanding that our actual future results may be materially different from and worse than what we expect. We qualify all of our forward-looking statements by these cautionary statements.

This prospectus contains certain data and information that we obtained from various government and private publications. Although we believe the data and information to be reliable, we have not independently verified the accuracy or completeness of the data and information contained in these publications. Statistical data in these publications also include projections based on a number of assumptions. The online brokerage and related industries may not grow at the rate projected by market data, or at all. Failure of these markets to grow at the projected rate may have a material and adverse effect on our business and the market price of the ADSs. In addition, the rapidly evolving nature of the online brokerage industry results in significant uncertainties for any projections or estimates relating to the growth prospects or future condition of our market. Furthermore, if any

 

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one or more of the assumptions underlying the market data are later found to be incorrect, actual results may differ from the projections based on these assumptions. You should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements.

The forward-looking statements made in this prospectus relate only to events or information as of the date on which the statements are made in this prospectus. Except as required by law, we undertake no obligation to update or revise publicly any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, after the date on which the statements are made or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events. You should read this prospectus and the documents that we refer to in this prospectus and have filed as exhibits to the registration statement, of which this prospectus is a part, completely and with the understanding that our actual future results may be materially different from what we expect.

 

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USE OF PROCEEDS

We estimate that we will receive net proceeds from this offering and the Concurrent Private Placement of approximately US$148.4 million, or approximately US$160.8 million if the underwriters exercise their over-allotment option in full, after deducting underwriting discounts and commissions and the estimated offering expenses payable by us.

The primary purposes of this offering are to create a public market for our shares in the form of ADSs for the benefit of all shareholders, retain talented employees by providing them with equity incentives and obtain additional capital. We plan to use the net proceeds of this offering and the Concurrent Private Placement for general corporate purposes, including research and development, working capital needs, and increased regulatory capital requirements of the HK SFC and regulatory authorities in other jurisdictions as a result of our business expansion.

The amounts and timing of any expenditures will vary depending on the amount of cash generated by our operations, and the rate of growth, if any, of our business, and our plans and business conditions. The foregoing represents our current intentions based upon our present plans and business conditions to use and allocate the net proceeds of this offering and the Concurrent Private Placement. Our management, however, will have significant flexibility and discretion to apply the net proceeds of this offering and the Concurrent Private Placement. If an unforeseen event occurs or business conditions change, we may use the proceeds of this offering and the Concurrent Private Placement differently than as described in this prospectus. See “Risk Factors—Risks Related to the ADSs and This Offering—We have not determined a specific use for a portion of the net proceeds from this offering and the Concurrent Private Placement, and we may use these proceeds in ways with which you may not agree.”

Pending any use of proceeds described above, we plan to invest the net proceeds from this offering and the Concurrent Private Placement in short-term, interest-bearing, debt instruments or demand deposits.

In using the net proceeds of this offering and the Concurrent Private Placement, we are permitted under PRC laws and regulations as an offshore holding company to provide funding to our PRC subsidiaries only through loans or capital contributions and to our VIE only through loans, subject to satisfaction of applicable government registration and approval requirements. We cannot assure you that we will be able to obtain these government registrations or approvals on a timely basis, if at all. See “Risk Factors—Risks Related to Doing Business in China—PRC regulation of loans to and direct investment in PRC entities by offshore holding companies and governmental control of currency conversion may delay or prevent us from using the proceeds of this offering and the Concurrent Private Placement to make loans or additional capital contributions to our PRC subsidiaries and our VIE and its subsidiaries.”

 

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DIVIDEND POLICY

Our board of directors has discretion on whether to distribute dividends. In addition, our shareholders may by ordinary resolution declare a dividend, but no dividend may exceed the amount recommended by our board of directors. In either case, all dividends are subject to certain restrictions under Cayman Islands law, namely that our company may only pay dividends out of profits or share premium, and provided always that in no circumstances may a dividend be paid if this would result in our company being unable to pay its debts as they fall due in the ordinary course of business. Even if we decide dividends, the form, frequency and amount will depend upon our future operations and earnings, capital requirements and surplus, general financial condition, contractual restrictions and other factors that our board of directors may deem relevant.

We do not have any present plan to pay any cash dividends on our ordinary shares in the foreseeable future after this offering. We currently intend to retain most, if not all, of our available funds and any future earnings to operate and expand our business.

We are a holding company incorporated in the Cayman Islands. We may rely on dividends from our subsidiaries in Hong Kong and China for our cash requirements, including any payment of dividends to our shareholders. PRC regulations may restrict the ability of our PRC subsidiaries to pay dividends to us. See “Regulation—Overview of the Laws and Regulations Relating to Our Business and Operations in China—Regulations on Dividend Distribution.”

If we pay any dividends on our ordinary shares, we will pay those dividends which are payable in respect of the ordinary shares underlying the ADSs to the depositary, as the registered holder of such ordinary shares, and the depositary then will pay such amounts to the ADS holders in proportion to ordinary shares underlying the ADSs held by such ADS holders, subject to the terms of the deposit agreement, including the fees and expenses payable thereunder. See “Description of American Depositary Shares.” Cash dividends on our ordinary shares, if any, will be paid in U.S. dollars.

 

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CAPITALIZATION

The following table sets forth our capitalization as of December 31, 2018:

 

   

on an actual basis;

 

   

on a pro forma basis to reflect (i) the automatic conversion and redesignation of all of our issued and outstanding preferred shares into ordinary shares on a one-for-one basis immediately upon the completion of this offering; (ii) the re-designation of 544,552,051 ordinary shares into Class B ordinary shares on a one-for-one basis immediately prior to the completion of this offering; and (iii) the redesignation of all of the remaining ordinary shares into Class A ordinary shares on a one-for-one basis immediately prior to the completion of this offering; and

 

   

on a pro forma as adjusted basis to reflect (i) the automatic conversion and redesignation of all of our issued and outstanding preferred shares into ordinary shares on a one-for-one basis immediately upon the completion of this offering; (ii) the re-designation of 544,552,051 ordinary shares into Class B ordinary shares on a one-for-one basis immediately prior to the completion of this offering; and (iii) the redesignation of all of the remaining ordinary shares into Class A ordinary shares on a one-for-one basis immediately prior to the completion of this offering; (iv) the issuance and sale of 60,000,000 Class A ordinary shares in the form of ADSs by us in this offering at the initial public offering price of US$12.00 per ADS, after deducting the underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us, assuming the underwriters do not exercise the over-allotment option and (v) the issuance and sale of 46,666,666 Class A ordinary shares through the Concurrent Private Placement.

 

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You should read this table together with our consolidated financial statements and the related notes included elsewhere in this prospectus and the information under “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.”

 

     As of December 31, 2018  
     Actual     Pro Forma     Pro Forma As
Adjusted(1)
 
     (in thousands, except for share and per share data)  
     HK$     US$     HK$     US$     HK$     US$  

Mezzanine equity

      

Series A preferred shares (US$0.00001 par value; 125,000,000 shares authorized, issued and outstanding on an actual basis, and none outstanding on a pro forma or a pro forma as adjusted basis)

     68,072       8,693       —         —         —         —    

Series A-1 preferred shares (US$0.00001 par value; 23,437,500 shares authorized, issued and outstanding on an actual basis, and none outstanding on a pro forma or a pro forma as adjusted basis)

     14,587       1,863       —         —         —         —    

Series B preferred shares (US$0.00001 par value; 88,423,500 shares authorized, issued and outstanding on an actual basis, and none outstanding on a pro forma or a pro forma as adjusted basis)

     282,627       36,093       —         —         —         —    

Series C preferred shares (US$0.00001 par value; 128,844,812 shares authorized, issued and outstanding on an actual basis, and none outstanding on a pro forma or a pro forma as adjusted basis)

     777,835       99,334       —         —         —         —    

Series C-1 preferred shares (US$0.00001 par value; 12,225,282 shares authorized, issued and outstanding on an actual basis, and none outstanding on a pro forma or a pro forma as adjusted basis)

     107,351       13,709       —         —         —         —    

Total mezzanine equity

     1,250,472       159,692       —         —         —         —    

Shareholders’ deficit:

      

Ordinary shares (US$0.00001 par value; 4,622,068,906 and 4,622,068,906 shares authorized as of December 31, 2017 and December 31, 2018, respectively; 403,750,000 and 403,750,000 shares issued and outstanding as of December 31, 2017 and December 31, 2018, respectively; No shares issued and outstanding on a pro-forma basis and on a pro-forma adjusted basis as of December 31, 2018)

     31       4       —         —         —         —    

Class A ordinary shares (US$0.00001 par value; none outstanding on an actual basis, 237,129,043 issued and outstanding on a pro forma basis, and 343,795,709 issued and outstanding on a pro forma as adjusted basis)

     —         —         15       2       23       3  

Class B ordinary shares (US$0.00001 par value; none outstanding on an actual basis, 544,552,051 issued and outstanding on a pro forma basis, and 544,552,051 issued and outstanding on a pro forma as adjusted basis)

     —         —         46       6       46       6  

Additional paid-in capital

     —         —         1,250,442       159,688       2,412,663       308,111  

Accumulated other comprehensive loss

     (1,299     (166     (1,299     (166     (1,299     (166

Accumulated deficit

     (148,925     (19,019     (148,925     (19,019     (148,925     (19,019

Total shareholders’ (deficit)/equity

     (150,193     (19,181     1,100,279       140,511       2,262,508       288,935  

Total liabilities, mezzanine equity and shareholders’ (deficit)/equity

     16,062,932       2,051,329       16,062,932       2,051,329       17,225,161       2,199,753  

 

Notes:

(1)

The pro forma as adjusted information discussed above is illustrative only.

 

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DILUTION

If you invest in the ADSs, your interest will be diluted to the extent of the difference between the initial public offering price per ADS and our net tangible book value per ADS after this offering. Dilution results from the fact that the initial public offering price per ordinary share is substantially in excess of the book value per ordinary share attributable to the existing shareholders for our presently outstanding ordinary shares on an as-converted basis.

Our net tangible book value as of December 31, 2018 was approximately US$140.3 million, or US$0.18 per ordinary share on an as-converted basis as of that date and US$1.44 per ADS. Net tangible book value represents the amount of our total consolidated tangible assets, less the amount of our total consolidated liabilities. Dilution is determined by subtracting net tangible book value per ordinary share on an as-converted basis, after giving effect to (i) the additional proceeds we will receive from this offering, from the initial public offering price of US$1.50 per Class A ordinary share, and after deducting underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us and (ii) the issuance and sale in the Concurrent Private Placement of 46,666,666 Class A ordinary shares. Because the Class A ordinary shares and Class B ordinary shares have the same dividend and other rights, except for voting and conversion rights, the dilution is presented based on all issued and outstanding ordinary shares, including Class A ordinary shares and Class B ordinary shares.

Without taking into account any other changes in net tangible book value after December 31, 2018, other than to give effect to (i) our sale of the ADSs offered in this offering at the initial public offering price of US$12.00 per ADS, after deduction of the underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us, and (ii) the issuance and sale of 46,666,666 Class A ordinary shares through the Concurrent Private Placement, our pro forma as adjusted net tangible book value as of December 31, 2018 would have been US$288.8 million, or US$0.33 per ordinary share and US$2.60 per ADS. This represents an immediate decrease in net tangible book value of US$0.02 per ordinary share and US$0.18 per ADS to the existing shareholders and an immediate dilution in net tangible book value of US$1.17 per ordinary share and US$9.40 per ADS to investors purchasing ADSs in this offering. The following table illustrates such dilution:

 

     Per Ordinary Share      Per ADS  

The initial public offering price

   US$ 1.50        US$12.00  

Net tangible book value as of December 31, 2018

   US$ 0.35        US$2.78  

Pro forma net tangible book value after giving effect to the conversion of our preferred shares

   US$ 0.18        US$1.44  

Pro forma as adjusted net tangible book value after giving effect to the conversion of our preferred shares, this offering and the Concurrent Private Placement

   US$ 0.33        US$2.60  

Amount of dilution in net tangible book value to new investors in this offering

   US$ 1.17        US$9.40  

 

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The following table summarizes, on a pro forma as adjusted basis as of December 31, 2018, the differences between existing shareholders and the new investors with respect to the number of ordinary shares (in the form of ADSs or shares) purchased from us in this offering and the Concurrent Private Placement, the total consideration paid and the average price per ordinary share and per ADS paid before deducting the underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us. The total number of ordinary shares does not include ordinary shares underlying the ADSs issuable upon the exercise of the over-allotment option granted to the underwriters.

 

    

 

Ordinary Shares Purchased

    Total Consideration     Average
Price Per
Ordinary
Share
     Average
Price Per
ADS
 
     Number      Percent     Amount      Percent  

Existing shareholders

     781,681,094        88.0   US$ 142,521,619        47.1   US$ 0.18      US$ 1.46  

New investors

     106,666,666        12.0   US$ 160,000,000        52.9   US$ 1.50      US$ 12.00  
  

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

    

 

 

      

Total

     888,347,760        100.0   US$ 302,521,619        100.0     
  

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

    

 

 

      

The pro forma as adjusted information discussed above is illustrative only.

The discussion and tables above assume no exercise of any outstanding share options outstanding as of the date of this prospectus. As of the date of this prospectus, there are 121,207,838 ordinary shares issuable upon exercise of outstanding share options at a nominal exercise price. To the extent that any of these options are exercised, there will be further dilution to new investors.

 

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ENFORCEABILITY OF CIVIL LIABILITIES

We are incorporated under the laws of the Cayman Islands as an exempted company with limited liability. We are incorporated in the Cayman Islands because of certain benefits associated with being a Cayman Islands exempted company, such as political and economic stability, an effective judicial system, a favorable tax system, the absence of foreign exchange control or currency restrictions and the availability of professional and support services. However, the Cayman Islands has a less developed body of securities laws than the United States and provides less protection for investors. In addition, Cayman Islands companies do not have standing to sue before the federal courts of the United States.

Substantially all of our assets are located outside the United States. In addition, most of our directors and officers are nationals or residents of jurisdictions other than the United States and all or a substantial portion of their assets are located outside the United States. As a result, it may be difficult for investors to effect service of process within the United States upon us or these persons, or to enforce judgments obtained in U.S. courts against us or them, including judgments predicated upon the civil liability provisions of the securities laws of the United States or any state in the United States. It may also be difficult for you to enforce judgments obtained in U.S. courts based on the civil liability provisions of the U.S. federal securities laws against us and our officers and directors.

We have appointed Puglisi & Associates, located at 850 Library Avenue, Suite 204, Newark, Delaware 19711, as our agent to receive service of process with respect to any action brought against us in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in connection with this offering under the federal securities laws of the United States or the securities laws of any State in the United States or any action brought against us in the Supreme Court of the State of New York in the County of New York in connection with this offering under the securities laws of the State of New York.

Maples and Calder (Hong Kong) LLP, our counsel as to Cayman Islands law, has advised us that there is uncertainty as to whether the courts of the Cayman Islands would (1) recognize or enforce judgments of U.S. courts obtained against us or our directors or officers that are predicated upon the civil liability provisions of the federal securities laws of the United States or the securities laws of any state in the United States, or (2) entertain original actions brought in the Cayman Islands against us or our directors or officers that are predicated upon the federal securities laws of the United States or the securities laws of any state in the United States.

Maples and Calder (Hong Kong) LLP has informed us that although there is no statutory enforcement in the Cayman Islands of judgments obtained in the federal or state courts of the United States (and the Cayman Islands are not a party to any treaties for the reciprocal enforcement or recognition of such judgments), a judgment obtained in such jurisdiction will be recognized and enforced in the courts of the Cayman Islands at common law, without any re-examination of the merits of the underlying dispute, by an action commenced on the foreign judgment debt in the Grand Court of the Cayman Islands, provided such judgment (i) is given by a foreign court of competent jurisdiction, (ii) imposes on the judgment debtor (a liability to pay a liquidated sum for which the judgment has been given), (iii) is final, (iv) is not in respect of taxes, a fine or a penalty; and (v) was not obtained in a manner and is not of a kind the enforcement of which is contrary to natural justice or the public policy of the Cayman Islands. However, the Cayman Islands courts are unlikely to enforce a judgment obtained from the U.S. courts under civil liability provisions of the U.S. federal securities law if such judgment is determined by the courts of the Cayman Islands to give rise to obligations to make payments that are penal or punitive in nature. Because such a determination has not yet been made by a court of the Cayman Islands, it is uncertain whether such civil liability judgments from U.S. courts would be enforceable in the Cayman Islands.

CM Law Firm, our counsel as to PRC law, has advised us that there is uncertainty as to whether the courts of China would (1) recognize or enforce judgments of United States courts obtained against us or our directors or officers predicated upon the civil liability provisions of the securities laws of the United States or any state in the United States, or (2) entertain original actions brought in each respective jurisdiction against us or our directors or officers predicated upon the securities laws of the United States or any state in the United States.

 

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CM Law Firm has further advised us that the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments are provided for under the PRC Civil Procedures Law. PRC courts may recognize and enforce foreign judgments in accordance with the requirements of the PRC Civil Procedures Law based either on treaties between China and the country where the judgment is made or on principles of reciprocity between jurisdictions. China does not have any treaties or other form of reciprocity with the United States or the Cayman Islands that provide for the reciprocal recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments. In addition, according to the PRC Civil Procedures Law, courts in China will not enforce a foreign judgment against us or our directors and officers if they decide that the judgment violates the basic principles of PRC law or national sovereignty, security or public interest. As a result, it is uncertain whether and on what basis a PRC court would enforce a judgment rendered by a court in the United States or in the Cayman Islands. Under the PRC Civil Procedures Law, foreign shareholders may originate actions based on PRC law against us in the PRC, if they can establish sufficient nexus to the PRC for a PRC court to have jurisdiction, and meet other procedural requirements, including, among others, the plaintiff must have a direct interest in the case, and there must be a concrete claim, a factual basis and a cause for the suit.

In addition, it will be difficult for U.S. shareholders to originate actions against us in China in accordance with PRC laws because we are incorporated under the laws of the Cayman Islands and it will be difficult for U.S. shareholders, by virtue only of holding the ADSs or our ordinary shares, to establish a connection to China for a PRC court to have jurisdiction as required under the PRC Civil Procedures Law.

Judgment of United States courts will not be directly enforced in Hong Kong. There are currently no treaties or other arrangements providing for reciprocal enforcement of foreign judgments between Hong Kong and the United States. However, subject to certain conditions, including but not limited to when the judgment is for a liquidated amount in a civil matter and not in respect of taxes, fines, penalties or similar charges, the judgment is final and conclusive and has not been stayed or satisfied in full, the proceedings in which the judgment was obtained were not contrary to natural justice and the enforcement of the judgment is not contrary to public policy of Hong Kong, Hong Kong courts may accept such judgment obtained from a United States court as a debt due under the rules of common law enforcement. However, a separate legal action for debt must be commenced in Hong Kong in order to recover such debt from the judgment debtor.

 

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CORPORATE HISTORY AND STRUCTURE

Corporate History

We commenced our operations in December 2007 through Shenzhen Futu Network Technology Co., Ltd., or Shenzhen Futu, a limited liability company established under the laws of the PRC, to provide internet technology and software development services.

Futu Securities International (Hong Kong) Limited, or Futu International Hong Kong, was incorporated under the laws of Hong Kong by Mr. Leaf Hua Li, our founder, chairman and chief executive officer in April 2012. In October 2012, Futu International Hong Kong became a securities dealer registered with the HK SFC by obtaining a Type 1 License for dealing in securities. Futu International Hong Kong obtained a Type 2 License for dealing in future contracts, a Type 4 License for advising on securities, a Type 9 License for asset management and a Type 5 License for advising on future contracts from the HK SFC subsequently in July 2013, June 2015, July 2015 and August 2018, respectively. In October 2014, Mr. Li transferred all of Futu International Hong Kong’s shares to Futu Holdings Limited, or Futu Holdings, our holding company. Futu International Hong Kong established two wholly-owned PRC subsidiaries, Shenzhen Shidai Futu Consulting Limited, or Shenzhen Shidai, and Shenzhen Qianhai Fuzhitu Investment Consulting Management Limited, or Shenzhen Qianhai, in May 2015 and August 2015, respectively. As of the date of this prospectus, we conduct most aspects of our operations through Futu International Hong Kong in Hong Kong.

In April 2014, Futu Holdings was incorporated under the laws of the Cayman Islands as our holding company. In May 2014, Futu Securities (Hong Kong) Limited, or Futu Hong Kong, was incorporated under the laws of Hong Kong as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Futu Holdings. As of the date of this prospectus, Futu Hong Kong has not engaged in any operating activities. Futu Hong Kong established two wholly-owned PRC subsidiaries, Shensi Network Technology (Beijing) Co., Ltd., or Shensi Beijing, and Futu Network Technology (Shenzhen) Co., Ltd., or Futu Network, in September 2014 and October 2015, respectively, which are referred to as our PRC WFOEs in this prospectus. Due to restrictions imposed by PRC laws and regulations on foreign ownership of companies that engage in internet and other related business, Shensi Beijing later entered into a series of contractual arrangements with Shenzhen Futu, which we refer to as our VIE in this prospectus, and its shareholders. For more details, see “Corporate History and Structure—Contractual Arrangements with Our VIE and Its Shareholders.” As a result of our direct ownership in our PRC WFOEs and the VIE contractual arrangements, we are regarded as the primary beneficiary of our VIE. We treated our VIE and its subsidiary as our consolidated affiliated entities under U.S. GAAP, and have consolidated the financial results of these entities in our consolidated financial statements in accordance with U.S. GAAP.

We operate our business mainly through Futu International Hong Kong, which is a HK SFC-regulated entity that holds the relevant licenses related to our securities brokerage business. In 2016, 2017 and 2018, we generated revenues of HK$83.2 million, HK$305.6 million and HK$795.0 million (US$101.5 million), accounting for 95.6%, 98.0% and 98.0% of our total revenues, respectively, from Futu International Hong Kong, whose assets amounted to HK$4,425.8 million, HK$10,748.7 million and HK$15,547.7 million (US$1,985.5 million), accounting for 98.0%, 98.4%, 96.8% of our total assets as of the end of the same years, respectively, taking intercompany transaction offset into consideration. We also conduct research and development activities in China through Futu Network and our VIE. In 2016, 2017 and 2018, we generated revenues of HK$2.5 million, HK$4.6 million and HK$3.2 million (US$0.4 million), accounting for 2.9%, 1.5% and 0.4% of our total revenues, respectively, from Futu Network and our VIE, whose assets amounted to HK$45.2 million, HK$73.8 million and HK$224.8 million (US$28.7 million), accounting for 1.0%, 0.7% and 1.4% of our total assets as of the end of the same years, respectively, taking intercompany transaction offset into consideration. As of the date of this prospectus, we have not engaged in any operating activities through our other subsidiaries in China.

We strategically established Futu Financial Limited, Futu Lending Limited and Futu Network Technology Limited, each a wholly-owned subsidiary of our company in Hong Kong, in April 2017, April 2017 and August 2015, respectively, for the purpose of our potential business expansion in the future. As of the date of this

 

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prospectus, these subsidiaries have not engaged in any active operating activities. In the past, compared to our total revenues and total assets, the revenues and assets of these subsidiaries were nominal.

In addition, we established Futu Inc., Futu Clearing Inc. and Moomoo Inc., each a wholly-owned subsidiary of our company in the United States, in December 2015, August 2018 and March 2018, respectively, in order to improve our ability to offer investing services in overseas markets. As of the date of this prospectus, Futu Inc. and Moomoo Inc. have only recently commenced operations, and Futu Clearing Inc. has not yet commenced operations. The revenues and assets of these subsidiaries are nominal compared to the total assets of our company.

The following diagram illustrates our corporate structure, including our significant subsidiaries and our VIE, as of the date of this prospectus:

 

LOGO

 

Note:

(1)

Mr. Leaf Hua Li and Ms. Lei Li are beneficiary owners of our company and hold 85% and 15% equity interests in Shenzhen Futu, respectively. Mr. Li is the founder, chairman and chief executive officer of our company and Ms. Li is Mr. Li’s spouse.

Contractual Arrangements with Our VIE and Its Shareholders

The following is a summary of the currently effective contractual arrangements by and among our wholly-owned PRC subsidiary, Shensi Beijing, our VIE, Shenzhen Futu, and the shareholders of Shenzhen Futu. These contractual arrangements enable us to (i) exercise effective control over our VIE; (ii) receive substantially all of the economic benefits of our VIE; and (iii) have an exclusive option to purchase all or part of the equity interests in and/or assets of our VIE when and to the extent permitted by PRC laws.

Agreements that provide us effective control over our VIE

Shareholders’ Voting Rights Proxy Agreement. Pursuant to the shareholders’ voting rights proxy agreement entered into in October 2014, and amended and restated in May 2015 and further amended and

 

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restated in September 2018, by and among Shensi Beijing, Shenzhen Futu and each of the shareholders of Shenzhen Futu, each shareholder of Shenzhen Futu irrevocably authorized Shensi Beijing to exercise such shareholder’s rights in Shenzhen Futu, including without limitation, the power to participate in and vote at shareholder’s meetings, the power to nominate and appoint the directors, senior management, and other shareholders’ voting rights permitted by the Articles of Association of Shenzhen Futu. The shareholders’ voting rights proxy agreement remains irrevocable and continuously valid from the date of execution until the expiration of the business term of Shensi Beijing and can be renewed upon request by Shensi Beijing.

Business Operation Agreement. Pursuant to the business operation agreement entered into in October 2014, and amended and restated in May 2015 and further amended and restated in September 2018 by and among Shensi Beijing, Shenzhen Futu and each of the shareholders of Shenzhen Futu, Shenzhen Futu and its shareholders undertake that without Shensi Beijing’s prior written consent, Shenzhen Futu shall not enter into any transactions that may have a material effect on Shenzhen Futu’s assets, business, personnel, obligations, rights or business operations. Shenzhen Futu and its shareholders shall elect directors nominated by Shensi Beijing and such directors shall nominate officers designated by Shensi Beijing. The business operation agreement will remain effective until the end of Shensi Beijing’s business term, which will be extended if Shensi Beijing’s business term is extended or as required by Shensi Beijing.

Equity Interest Pledge Agreement. Pursuant to the equity interest pledge agreement entered into in October 2014, and amended and restated in May 2015 and further amended and restated in September 2018 by and among Shensi Beijing, Shenzhen Futu and each of the shareholders of Shenzhen Futu, each shareholder of Shenzhen Futu agrees that, during the term of the equity interest pledge agreements, he or she will not dispose of the pledged equity interests or create or allow any encumbrance on the pledged equity interests without the prior written consent of Shensi Beijing. The equity interest pledge agreements remain effective until the latter of the full payment of all secured debt under the equity interest pledge agreement and Shenzhen Futu and its shareholders discharge all their obligations under the contractual arrangements. As of the date of this prospectus, each shareholder of Shenzhen Futu is planning to pledge his or her equity interest in Shenzhen Futu to Shensi Beijing.

Agreements that allow us to receive economic benefits from our VIE

Exclusive Technology Consulting and Services Agreement. Under the exclusive technology and consulting and services agreement between Shensi Beijing and Shenzhen Futu in October 2014, and amended and restated in May 2015 and further amended and restated in September 2018, Shensi Beijing has the exclusive right to provide Shenzhen Futu with technology consulting and services related to, among other things, technology research and development, technology application and implementation, maintenance of software and hardware. Without Shensi Beijing’s written consent, Shenzhen Futu shall not accept any technology consulting and services covered by this agreement from any third party. Shenzhen Futu agrees to pay a service fee at an amount equivalent to all of its net profit to Shensi Beijing. Unless otherwise terminated in accordance with the terms of this agreement or otherwise agreed by Shensi Beijing, this agreement will remain effective until the expiration of Shensi Beijing’s business term, and will be renewed if Shensi Beijing’s business term is extended.

Agreements that provide us with the option to purchase the equity interests in our VIE

Exclusive Option Agreement. Pursuant to the exclusive option agreement entered into in October 2014, and amended and restated in May 2015 and further amended and restated in September 2018, by and among Shensi Beijing, Shenzhen Futu and each of the shareholders of Shenzhen Futu, each shareholder of Shenzhen Futu has irrevocably granted Shensi Beijing an exclusive option, to the extent permitted by PRC laws, to purchase, or have its designated person or persons to purchase, at its discretion, all or part of the shareholder’s equity interests in Shenzhen Futu. Unless PRC laws and/or regulations require valuation of the equity interests, the purchase price shall be RMB1.00 or the lowest price permitted by the applicable PRC laws, whoever is higher. Each shareholder of Shenzhen Futu undertakes that, without the prior written consent of Shensi Beijing, he or she will not, among

 

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other things, (i) create any pledge or encumbrance on his or her equity interests in Shenzhen Futu, (ii) transfer or otherwise dispose of his or her equity interests in Shenzhen Futu, (iii) change Shenzhen Futu’s registered capital, (iv) amend Shenzhen Futu’s articles of association, (v) liquidate or dissolve Shenzhen Futu, or (vi) distribute dividends to the shareholders of Shenshen Futu. In addition, Shenzhen Futu undertakes that, without the prior written consent of Shensi Beijing, it will not, among other things, dispose of Shenzhen Futu’s material assets, provide any loans to any third parties, enter into any material contract with a value of more than RMB500,000, or create any pledge or encumbrance on any of its assets, or transfer or otherwise dispose of its material assets. Unless otherwise terminated by Shensi Beijing, this agreement will remain effective until the expiration of Shensi Beijing’s business term, and will be renewed if Shensi Beijing’s business term is extended.

In the opinion of CM Law Firm, our PRC legal counsel:

 

   

the ownership structures of Shensi Beijing and Shenzhen Futu, both currently and immediately after giving effect to this offering, will not result in any violation of applicable PRC laws or regulations currently in effect; and

 

   

the contractual arrangements among Shensi Beijing, Shenzhen Futu and the shareholders of Shenzhen Futu governed by PRC law are valid, binding and enforceable, and will not result in any violation of PRC laws or regulations currently in effect.

However, we have been further advised by our PRC legal counsel that there are substantial uncertainties regarding the interpretation and application of current and future PRC laws, regulations and rules. Accordingly, the PRC regulatory authorities may in the future take a view that is contrary to or otherwise different from the above opinion of our PRC legal counsel. If the PRC government finds that the agreements that establish the structure for operating our business do not comply with PRC government restrictions on foreign investment in our businesses, we could be subject to severe penalties including being prohibited from continuing operations in China. See “Risk Factors—Risks Related to Our Business and Industry—We rely on contractual arrangements with our VIE and its shareholders to operate a limited part of our business in China, which may not be as effective as direct ownership in providing operational control and otherwise have a material adverse effect as to our business” and “Risk Factors—Risks Related to Doing Business in China—If the PRC government deems that the contractual arrangements in relation to our VIE do not comply with PRC regulatory restrictions on foreign investment in the relevant industries, or if these regulations or the interpretation of existing regulations change in the future, we could be subject to severe penalties or be forced to relinquish our interests in those operations.”

 

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SELECTED CONSOLIDATED FINANCIAL DATA

The following selected consolidated statement of comprehensive (loss)/income data for the years ended December 31, 2016, 2017 and 2018, selected consolidated balance sheet data as of December 31, 2017 and 2018 and selected consolidated cash flow data for the years ended December 31, 2016, 2017 and 2018 have been derived from our audited consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this prospectus. Our consolidated financial statements are prepared and presented in accordance with U.S. GAAP. Our historical results are not necessarily indicative of results expected for future periods. You should read this Selected Consolidated Financial Data section together with our consolidated financial statements and the related notes and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” included elsewhere in this prospectus.

 

    For the Year ended December 31,  
    2016     2017     2018  
    HK$     HK$     HK$     US$  
    (in thousands, except for share and per share data)  

Selected Consolidated Statements of Comprehensive (Loss)/Income Data :

       

Revenues

       

Brokerage commission and handling charge income

    74,498       184,918       407,990       52,103  

Interest income

    5,795       105,872       360,585       46,049  

Other income

    6,722       20,873       42,768       5,462  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total revenues

    87,015       311,663       811,343       103,614  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Costs

       

Brokerage commission and handling charge expenses

    (18,730     (36,777     (80,127     (10,233

Interest expenses

    (3,459     (19,879     (95,624     (12,212

Processing and servicing costs

    (22,880     (52,446     (73,843     (9,430
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total costs

    (45,069     (109,102     (249,594     (31,875
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total gross profit

    41,946       202,561       561,749       71,739  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Operating expenses

       

Research and development expenses(1)

    (61,624     (95,526     (151,097     (19,296

Selling and marketing expenses(1)

    (59,198     (41,446     (98,062     (12,523

General and administrative expenses(1)

    (31,786     (57,293     (103,831     (13,260
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total operating expenses

    (152,608     (194,265     (352,990     (45,079
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Others, net

    (1,085     (4,918     (7,959     (1,016

(Loss)/income before income tax benefit/(expense)

    (111,747     3,378       200,800       25,644  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Income tax benefit/(expense)

    13,276       (11,480     (62,288     (7,955

Net (loss)/income

    (98,471     (8,102     138,512       17,689  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Preferred shares redemption value accretion

    (17,929     (47,715     (66,998     (8,556
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Income allocation to participating preferred shareholders

    —         —         (34,576     (4,416
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net (loss)/income attributable to ordinary shareholder of the Company

    (116,400     (55,817     36,938       4,717  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net (loss)/income

    (98,471     (8,102     138,512       17,689  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Other comprehensive (loss)/income, net of tax

       

Foreign currency translation adjustment

    (4,142     3,366       754       96  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total comprehensive (loss)/income

    (102,613     (4,736     139,266       17,785  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net (loss)/income per share attributable to ordinary shareholder of the Company

       

Basic

    (0.29     (0.14     0.09       0.01  

Diluted

    (0.29     (0.14     0.07       0.01  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

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    For the Year ended December 31,  
    2016     2017     2018  
    HK$     HK$     HK$     US$  
    (in thousands, except for share and per share data)  

Weighted average number of ordinary shares used in computing net (loss)/income per share

       

Basic

    403,750,000       403,750,000       403,750,000       403,750,000  

Diluted

    403,750,000       403,750,000       511,536,122       511,536,122  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

Note:

(1)

Share-based compensation expenses were allocated as follows:

 

     For the Year Ended December 31,  
     2016      2017      2018  
     HK$      HK$      HK$      US$  
     (in thousands)  

Selling and marketing expenses

     261        161        104        13  

Research and development expenses

     8,335        8,854        9,223        1,178  

General and administrative expenses

     559        754        1,113        142  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Total

     9,155        9,769        10,440        1,333  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

 

     As of December 31,     Pro Forma
December 31,
(Unaudited)
 
     2017     2018     2018     2018      2018  
     HK$     HK$     US$     HK$      US$  
     (in thousands)  

Selected Consolidated Balance Sheet Data:

           

Assets

           

Cash and cash equivalents

     375,263       215,617       27,536       215,617        27,536  

Cash held on behalf of clients

     7,176,579       11,771,487       1,503,287       11,771,487        1,503,287  

Available-for-sale financial securities

     —         59,348       7,579       59,348        7,579  

Amounts due from related parties

     6,541       —         —         —          —    

Loans and advances

     2,907,967       3,086,904       394,215       3,086,904        394,215  

Receivables:

           

Clients

     218,960       120,256       15,357       120,256        15,357  

Brokers

     106,078       425,849       54,383       425,849        54,383  

Clearing organization

     55,892       175,955       22,470       175,955        22,470  

Interest

     7,041       49,427       6,313       49,427        6,313  

Prepaid assets

     3,646       8,810       1,125       8,810        1,125  

Other assets

     65,918       149,279       19,064       149,279        19,064  
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

    

 

 

 

Total assets

     10,923,885       16,062,932       2,051,329       16,062,932        2,051,329  
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

    

 

 

 

Liabilities

           

Amounts due to related parties

     14,687       8,591       1,097       8,591        1,097  

Payables:

           

Clients

     7,340,823       12,304,717       1,571,383       12,304,717        1,571,383  

Brokers

     929,692       920,871       117,601       920,871        117,601  

Clearing organization

     82,878       —         —         —          —    

Interest

     2,066       2,405       308       2,405        308  

Short-term borrowings

     1,542,448       1,576,251       201,296       1,576,251        201,296  

Convertible notes

     —         —         —         —          —    

Accrued expenses and other liabilities

     60,717       149,818       19,133       149,818        19,133  
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

    

 

 

 

Total liabilities

     9,973,311       14,962,653       1,910,818       14,962,653        1,910,818  
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

    

 

 

 

Total mezzanine equity

     1,183,475       1,250,472       159,692       —          —    

Total shareholders’ (deficit)/equity

     (232,901     (150,193     (19,181     1,100,279        140,511  
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

    

 

 

 

Total liabilities, mezzanine equity and shareholders’ (deficit)/equity

     10,923,885       16,062,932       2,051,329       16,062,932        2,051,329  
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

    

 

 

 

 

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    For the Year Ended December 31,  
    2016     2017     2018  
    HK$     HK$     HK$     US$  
    (in thousands)  

Selected Consolidated Cash Flow Data:

       

Net cash generated from operating activities

    1,397,692       1,855,328       4,470,167       570,866  

Net cash used in investing activities

    (6,230     (5,145     (78,052     (9,967

Net cash generated from financing activities

    147,594       2,155,846       35,690       4,558  

Effect of exchange rate changes on cash, cash equivalents and restricted cash

    77       21,625       7,457       952  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net increase in cash, cash equivalents and restricted cash

    1,539,133       4,027,654       4,435,262       566,409  

Cash, cash equivalents and restricted cash at beginning of the year

    1,985,055       3,524,188    

 

 

 

7,551,842

 

 

 

 

 

 

964,414

 

 

 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Cash, cash equivalents and restricted cash at end of the year

    3,524,188       7,551,842       11,987,104       1,530,823  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

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MANAGEMENT’S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF

FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS

You should read the following discussion and analysis of our financial condition and results of operations in conjunction with the section entitled “Selected Consolidated Financial Data” and our consolidated financial statements and the related notes included elsewhere in this prospectus. This discussion contains forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties about our business and operations. Our actual results and the timing of selected events may differ materially from those anticipated in these forward-looking statements as a result of various factors, including those we describe under “Risk Factors” and elsewhere in this prospectus. See “Special Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements.”

Overview

We are an advanced technology company transforming the investing experience by offering a fully digitized brokerage platform. Technology permeates every part of our business, allowing us to offer a redefined user experience built upon an agile, stable, scalable and secure platform. We primarily serve the emerging affluent Chinese population, pursuing a massive opportunity to facilitate a once-in-a-generation shift in the wealth management industry and build a digital gateway into broader financial services. As of December 31, 2018, we had an attractive and rapidly growing user base of 5.6 million, over 502,000 registered clients, defined as users who have opened trading accounts with us, and over 132,000 paying clients, defined as registered clients who have assets in their trading accounts. In 2018, we brokered HK$907.0 billion (US$115.8 billion) in client trades. According to Oliver Wyman, we ranked fourth among Hong Kong online retail brokers in terms of online brokerage revenue for the six months ended June 30, 2018.

We launched our business on the premise that no one should be precluded from investing on the basis of prohibitive transaction costs or market inexperience. We thus designed a platform around an elegant user experience integrating clear and relevant market data, social collaboration and best-in-class trade execution, finding that by delivering our vision through a purpose-built technology infrastructure we could disrupt traditional investing conventions. Over the last eight years we have continuously enhanced our technology and built a comprehensive, user-oriented and cloud-based platform that is fully-licensed to conduct securities brokerage business in Hong Kong. This serves as a foundation from which to execute our growth strategies with an operating efficiency that allows us to offer commission rates that are approximately one-fifth of the average rate offered by the leading players in Hong Kong, according to Oliver Wyman, creating a massive barrier to entry. As of December 31, 2018, approximately 65% of our workforce was dedicated to research and development, reflecting the degree to which technological excellence is entrenched in every aspect of our business.

We provide investing services through our proprietary digital platform, Futu NiuNiu, a highly integrated application accessible through any mobile device, tablet or desktop. Our primary fee-generating services include trade execution and margin financing which allow our clients to trade securities, such as stocks, warrants, options and ETFs, across different markets. We surround our trading and margin financing services and enhance our user and client experience with market data and news, research, as well as powerful analytical tools, providing our clients with a data rich foundation to simplify the investing decision-making process.

We have achieved significant growth in our user and client base, client assets, trading volumes and revenues. Our paying clients increased from 35,456 as of December 31, 2016 to 80,057 as of December 31, 2017, and further increased to 132,821 as of December 31, 2018. Our growing paying client base allowed us to increase client assets and trading volumes by 186.0% and 164.4%, respectively, in 2017 as compared to 2016, and by 14.7% and 75.1%, respectively, in 2018 as compared to 2017. This drove revenues of HK$311.7 million in 2017, representing a 258.2% increase from HK$87.0 million in 2016, and of HK$811.3 million (US$103.6 million) in 2018, representing a 160.3% increase from HK$311.7 million in 2017. We were able to decrease our net loss from HK$98.5 million in 2016 to HK$8.1 million in 2017, and had net income of HK$138.5 million (US$17.7 million) in 2018.

 

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Key Factors Affecting Our Results of Operations

Our business and results of operations are influenced by general factors affecting the online brokerage industry in Hong Kong and China, including the overall economic and market conditions, level of per capita disposable income in Hong Kong and China, and the growth of the online brokerage and related services markets. In particular, as our securities brokerage business depends heavily on trading volume, our financial performance is highly dependent on the market conditions in which our business operates. Changes in market conditions can have a significant impact on investor sentiment and trading volume, resulting in fluctuation in brokerage commission and fee income. Our margin financing business is subject to influences from market factors such as market liquidity, interest rate as well as investor sentiment.

In addition, our business and results of operations are also affected by factors driving online brokerage in Hong Kong and China, such as the growing number of retail investors having interests and needs in investing securities in global capital markets, the usage and penetration rate of the internet and mobile internet, the changing investor preferences with respect to trading and investment platforms and the competitive environment, governmental policies and regulatory environment, such as any capital control measures that impose restrictions on cross-border transfer. Unfavorable changes in any of these general factors could negatively affect demand for our services and materially and adversely affect our results of operations.

While our business is influenced by general factors affecting our industry, our results of operations are more directly affected by certain company specific factors, including:

Number of clients, their trading activities and commission rate

Growth in the trading volume on our platform is the key driver of our revenue growth, which is in turn driven by total client asset balance and turnover of trading volume over client assets. The trading volume on our platform increased from HK$195.9 billion in 2016 to HK$517.9 billion in 2017 and further to HK$907.0 billion (US$115.8 billion) in 2018, primarily driven by the increase in our total client asset balance, which is in turn driven by the number of our paying clients, among others. The number of our paying clients increased from 35,456 as of December 31, 2016 to 80,057 as of December 31, 2017, and further increased to 132,821 as of December 31, 2018. As a result, our total client asset balance increased from HK$15.5 billion as of December 31, 2016 to HK$44.4 billion as of December 31, 2017, and further increased to HK$50.9 billion (US$6.5 billion) as of December 31, 2018. The increase in total client asset balance has contributed to the significant increase in our brokerage commission and handling charge income and interest income during these years. Our total client asset balance is also affected by a number of other factors, including level of per capita disposable income as well as the engagement and stickiness of our clients. We have strived to increase the engagement and stickiness of our clients and enhance the competitiveness and attractiveness of our platform by offering superior investing experience, insightful market intelligence and social connectivity. We plan to continue to grow our business organically by attracting and retaining clients and increasing our total client asset balance, and to improve the turnover of trading volume over client asset by adding new products and services on our platform and providing high-quality, reliable and convenient online brokerage and ancillary services to investors at low costs. In addition to trading volume, our brokerage commission and handling charge income is also affected by the commission rate we charge.

Our margin financing and securities lending balance and interest spread

To provide our investors with comprehensive investment services, we offer margin financing and securities lending services on our platform. Since then, benefiting from our high-growth client base, increasingly attractive products and broader financing partners network, our margin financing and securities lending businesses have grown rapidly. Interest income derived from our margin financing and securities lending businesses as a percentage of revenues increased from 2.0% in 2016 to 21.0% in 2017, and further increased to 27.9% in 2018. Our daily average margin financing and securities lending balance grew significantly from HK$1,126.0 million

 

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in 2017 to HK$3,729.0 million (US$476.2 million) in 2018. The increase in our daily average margin financing and securities lending balance has been primarily driven by the increase in the number of margin financing and securities lending clients. In 2018, we had provided margin financing service for securities listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and the major stock exchanges in the U.S. to 33,573 and 19,812 clients, respectively, and we had provided securities lending services for securities listed on the major stock exchanges in the U.S. to 7,969 clients. The margin financing and securities lending balance is also affected by factors including client asset balance, margin financing and securities lending balance as a percentage of client assets, and our ability to continue to secure funding and securities from third parties.

The net interest income from our margin financing and securities lending businesses is affected by our margin financing and securities lending balance, as well as the interest spread we earn. We have benefitted from the increase in client demand for margin financing and securities lending services, which in turn strengthened our bargaining power against third-party funding and securities lenders and allowed us to optimize interest expenses. To continue to expand our margin financing and securities lending businesses, we plan to deepen our cooperation with third-party funding and securities lenders as well as allocate our own capital to increase the funds available. To effectively manage our capital, we have established liquidity policies to support the growth of our margin financing business while ensuring sufficient capital reserve is maintained to meet operational needs and comply with applicable regulatory requirements. In addition, once we become a publicly listed company, we will be perceived as a stronger debtor by lenders and potentially obtain a better credit rating from rating agencies, which will further diversify our funding sources and improve our funding terms.

We have also been developing and offering innovative solutions for our clients who wish to finance their securities purchases, such as real-time, cross-market, securities-backed financing and enhanced leverage for IPO subscriptions. Our revenue growth will be affected by our ability to effectively execute these initiatives and increase our margin financing and securities lending balance and interest spread.

Operating leverage of our platform

Our results of operations depend on our ability to manage our costs and expenses. We expect our costs and expenses to continue to increase as we grow our business and attract more clients to our platform. However, we believe our platform has significant operating leverage and enables us to realize cost savings structurally. We have built a secure and scalable brokerage platform that is fully digitized and supports the full transaction lifecycle from the front-end to the back-office through our proprietary cloud-based technology, which in turn allows us to reduce our operating expenses. We believe our proprietary and modularized technology infrastructure has been fully funded, enabling us to bring in new products and enter new markets with moderate investment and marginal cost. As a result, the costs associated with the operation of our platform as well as our operating expenses do not increase in line with our revenues as we do not require a proportional increase in the size of our workforce to support our growth.

In addition, by leveraging the client insights we generate from our large client base, we are able to attract corporate clients to utilize our distribution solution and public relations and brand promotion services, which in turn generates strong demand for our brokerage and margin financing services from our clients. The scale, demographics and depth of engagement of our client base also translates to high lifetime values. When matched against our efficient client acquisition, a function of our online marketing and promotional activities, word-of-mouth referrals and our corporate services, we are able to achieve a payback period of less than six months since the beginning of 2017. As our business further grows in scale, we believe our massive scale, coupled with the network effects, will allow us to acquire clients more cost-effectively and benefit from substantial economies of scale.

Investment in technology and talent

Our technology is critical for us to retain and attract clients. Over the last eight years, we have made significant investments into our technology platform, which has evolved into a highly-automated, multi-product,

 

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multi-market, closed-loop technology infrastructure that drives every function of our business including trading, risk management, clearing, market data, news feeds and social functions. We will continue to make significant investments in research and development and technology to enhance our platform to address the diverse needs of our clients and improve operating efficiency. We intend to focus on developing innovative applications, products and services aimed at providing more convenience to clients and improving our user experience, service quality and system efficiency. In addition, there is a strong demand in China’s internet industry for talented and experienced personnel. We must recruit, retain and motivate talented employees while controlling our personnel-related expenses, including share-based compensation expenses.

Our ability to broaden service offerings

Our results of operations are also affected by our ability to invest in and develop new service offerings and further penetrate our client base. We currently derive a substantial portion of our revenues from our securities brokerage business, and as a result, our profitability depends largely on the performance of this business. While we expect our brokerage commission income to increase and continue to be a major source of our revenues in the future, we also expect to increase the revenue contribution from other businesses with relatively higher profit margins, such as our margin financing and securities lending business. We also intend to further broaden our financial services footprint and launch new products and services, fixed income funds and futures. We believe that our comprehensive offering of financial products and services and our strong technology capability in developing new products and services will allow us to capture new market opportunities and respond to changes in the market, client demand and client preferences to remain competitive.

Key Components of Results of Operations

Revenues

We generate revenues primarily from our online brokerage and margin financing services. The following table sets forth the components of our revenues by amounts and percentages of our total revenues for the years presented:

 

    For the Year Ended December 31,  
    2016     2017     2018  
    HK$     %     HK$     %     HK$     US$     %  
    (in thousands, except for percentages)  

Revenues:

             

Brokerage commission and handling charge income

    74,498       85.6       184,918       59.3       407,990       52,103       50.3  

Interest income

    5,795       6.7       105,872       34.0       360,585       46,049       44.4  

Other income

    6,722       7.7       20,873       6.7       42,768       5,462       5.3  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total revenues

    87,015       100.0       311,663       100.0       811,343       103,614       100.0  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Brokerage commission and handling charge income

Brokerage commission income primarily consists of commissions and execution fees from our clients for whom we act as executing and clearing brokers. We generate commissions and execution fees on securities brokerage by trading equities and equity-linked derivatives on behalf of our clients. Handling charge income primarily consists of fees from settlement and dividend collection services.

Interest income

Interest income primarily consists of interest income from margin financing and securities lending services, interest income from bank deposit and interest income from IPO financing by arranging the financing for our clients in connection with their subscriptions in initial public offerings.

 

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Other income

Other income primarily consists of income from enterprise public relations services, underwriting fee income, IPO subscription service charge income, currency exchange service income from clients, income from market data service and client referral income from brokers. We generate income from enterprise public relations by providing institutional clients with public relations services, including distributing company information and news and providing communication channels with investors. We generate underwriting fee income in our investment banking business primarily by providing equity underwriting to corporate issuers. We generate IPO subscription service charge income from provision of new share subscription services in relation to IPOs in the Hong Kong capital market. We generate currency exchange service income from providing currency exchange services to our paying clients. We generate our income from market data service and client referral income primarily by providing fee-based market data services to users and clients and referring clients to licensed A-share brokers in China.

Costs

The following table sets forth the components of our costs by amounts and percentages of costs for the years presented:

 

    For the Year Ended December 31,  
    2016     2017     2018  
    HK$     %     HK$     %     HK$     US$     %  
    (in thousands, except for percentages)  

Costs:

             

Brokerage commission and handling charge expenses

    18,730       41.5       36,777       33.7       80,127       10,233       32.1  

Interest expenses

    3,459       7.7       19,879       18.2       95,624       12,212       38.3  

Processing and servicing costs

    22,880       50.8       52,446       48.1       73,843       9,430       29.6  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total costs

    45,069       100.0       109,102       100.0       249,594       31,875       100.0  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Brokerage commission and handling charge expenses

Brokerage commission and handling charge expenses consist of fees charged by executing brokers in the U.S. as we transact with them, expenses charged by stock exchanges or executing brokers for our use of their clearing and settlement systems and expenses charged by commercial banks or stock exchanges for providing clearing and settlement services in connection with IPO subscriptions.

Interest expenses

Interest expenses primarily consist of interest expenses of borrowings from commercial banks, other licensed financial institutions and other parties to fund our margin financing and IPO financing businesses.

Processing and servicing costs

Processing and servicing costs consist of market data and information fees, data transmission fees, cloud service fees and SMS service fees paid to stock exchanges and data and other service providers.

 

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Operating expenses

The following table sets forth the components of our operating expenses by amounts and percentages of operating expenses for the years presented:

 

    For the Year Ended December 31,  
    2016     2017     2018  
    HK$     %     HK$     %     HK$     US$     %  
    (in thousands, except for percentages)  

Operating expenses:

             

Research and development expenses

    61,624       40.4       95,526       49.2       151,097       19,296       42.8  

Selling and marketing expenses

    59,198       38.8       41,446       21.3       98,062       12,523       27.8  

General and administrative expenses

    31,786       20.8       57,293       29.5       103,831       13,260       29.4  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total operating expenses

    152,608       100.0       194,265       100.0       352,990       45,079       100.0  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Research and development expenses. Research and development expenses consist of expenses related to developing service platforms, including website, mobile apps and other products, as well as payroll and welfare, rental expenses and other related expenses for our research and development professionals.

Selling and marketing expenses. Selling and marketing expenses consist primarily of advertising and promotion costs, payroll, rental and related expenses for selling and marketing personnel. Advertising costs primarily consist of costs of online advertising and offline promotional events.

General and administrative expenses. General and administrative expenses consist of payroll, rental, and related expenses for employees involved in general corporate functions, including senior management, finance, legal and human resources, expenses for third-party professional agents, costs associated with use of facilities and equipment and other general corporate related expenses.

Taxation

Cayman Islands

The Cayman Islands currently levies no taxes on individuals or corporations based upon profits, income, gains or appreciation and there is no taxation in the nature of inheritance tax or estate duty. There are no other taxes likely to be material to us levied by the government of the Cayman Islands except for stamp duties which may be applicable on instruments executed in, or, after execution, brought within the jurisdiction of the Cayman Islands. In addition, the Cayman Islands does not impose withholding tax on dividend payments.

Hong Kong

Our subsidiaries incorporated in Hong Kong, including Futu Securities (Hong Kong) Limited, Futu Financial Limited, Futu Lending Limited, Futu Network Technology Limited and Futu Securities International (Hong Kong) Limited, are subject to 16.5% Hong Kong profit tax on their taxable income generated from operations in Hong Kong. Under the Hong Kong tax laws, we are exempted from the Hong Kong income tax on our foreign-derived income. In addition, payments of dividends from our Hong Kong subsidiary to us are not subject to any Hong Kong withholding tax.

PRC

Generally, our PRC subsidiaries, VIE and its subsidiary are subject to enterprise income tax on their taxable income in China at a statutory rate of 25%. The enterprise income tax is calculated based on the entity’s global income as determined under PRC tax laws and accounting standards.

 

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We are subject to value-added tax at a rate of 6% for the income arising from providing financial technology services to our clients in China. We are also subject to surcharges on value-added tax payments in accordance with PRC law.

Dividends paid by our wholly foreign-owned subsidiary in China to our intermediary holding company in Hong Kong will be subject to a withholding tax rate of 10%, unless the relevant Hong Kong entity satisfies all the requirements under the Arrangement between China and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region on the Avoidance of Double Taxation and Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to Taxes on Income and Capital and receives approval from the relevant tax authority. If our Hong Kong subsidiary satisfies all the requirements under the tax arrangement and receives approval from the relevant tax authority, then the dividends paid to the Hong Kong subsidiary would be subject to withholding tax at the standard rate of 5%. Effective from November 1, 2015, the above mentioned approval requirement has been abolished, but a Hong Kong entity is still required to file application package with the relevant tax authority, and settle the overdue taxes if the preferential tax rate of 5% is denied based on the subsequent review of the application package by the relevant tax authority.

If our holding company in the Cayman Islands or any of our subsidiaries outside of China were deemed to be a “resident enterprise” under the PRC Enterprise Income Tax Law, it would be subject to enterprise income tax on its worldwide income at a rate of 25%. See “Risk Factors—Risks Related to Doing Business in China—We may be treated as a resident enterprise for PRC tax purposes under the PRC Enterprise Income Tax Law, and we may therefore be subject to PRC income tax on our global income.”

Results of Operations

The following table sets forth a summary of our consolidated results of operations for the years presented, both in absolute amount and as a percentage of our revenues for the years presented. This information should be read together with our consolidated financial statements and related notes included elsewhere in this prospectus. The results of operations in any year are not necessarily indicative of our future trends.

 

    For the Year Ended December 31,  
    2016     2017     2018  
    HK$     %     HK$     %     HK$     US$     %  
   

(in thousands, except for percentages)

 

Revenues

             

Brokerage commission and handling charge income

    74,498       85.6       184,918       59.3       407,990       52,103       50.3  

Interest income

    5,795       6.7       105,872       34.0       360,585       46,049       44.4  

Other income

    6,722       7.7       20,873       6.7       42,768       5,462       5.3  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total revenues

    87,015       100.0       311,663       100.0       811,343       103,614       100.0  

Costs

             

Brokerage commission and handling charge expenses

    (18,730     (21.5     (36,777     (11.8     (80,127     (10,233     (9.9

Interest expenses

    (3,459     (4.0     (19,879     (6.4     (95,624     (12,212     (11.8

Processing and servicing costs

    (22,880     (26.3     (52,446     (16.8     (73,843     (9,430     (9.1
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total costs

    (45,069     (51.8     (109,102     (35.0     (249,594 )      (31,875 )      (30.8 ) 

Total gross profit

    41,946       48.2       202,561       65.0       561,749       71,739       69.2  

Operating expenses

             

Research and development expenses(1)

    (61,624     (70.8     (95,526     (30.7     (151,097     (19,296     (18.6

Selling and marketing expenses(1)

    (59,198     (68.0     (41,446     (13.3     (98,062     (12,523     (12.1

General and administrative expenses(1)

    (31,786     (36.6     (57,293     (18.3     (103,831     (13,260     (12.8
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total operating expenses

    (152,608     (175.4     (194,265     (62.3     (352,990 )      (45,079 )      (43.5 ) 

Others, net

    (1,085     (1.2     (4,918     (1.6     (7,959     (1,016     (1.0

(Loss)/income before income tax

    (111,747     (128.4     3,378       1.1       200,800       25,644       24.7  

Income tax benefit/(expense)

    13,276       15.3       (11,480     (3.7     (62,288     (7,955     (7.7

Net (loss)/income

    (98,471     (113.1     (8,102     (2.6     138,512       17,689       17.0  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

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Note:

(1)

Share-based compensation expenses were allocated as follows:

 

     For the Year Ended December 31,  
     2016      2017      2018  
     HK$      HK$      HK$      US$  
     (in thousands)  

Selling and marketing expenses

     261        161        104        13  

Research and development expenses

     8,335        8,854        9,223        1,178  

General and administrative expenses

     559        754        1,113        142  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Total

     9,155        9,769        10,440        1,333  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Year ended December 31, 2018 compared to year ended December 31, 2017

Revenues

Our revenues, which consist of brokerage commission and handling charge income, interest income and other income, significantly increased by 160.3% from HK$311.7 million in 2017 to HK$811.3 million (US$103.6 million) in 2018. This increase was primarily attributable to the increases in our brokerage commission and handling charge income and interest income.

Brokerage commission and handling charge income. Brokerage commission and handling charge income increased by 120.6% from HK$184.9 million in 2017 to HK$408.0 million (US$52.1 million) in 2018, primarily attributable to the increase in trading volume from HK$517.9 billion in 2017 to HK$907.0 billion (US$115.8 billion) in 2018 and the increase in our effective fee rates. The increase in trading volume was primarily attributable to the increase in the number of paying clients from 80,057 as of December 31, 2017 to 132,821 as of December 31, 2018. The increase in our effective fee rates is mainly the result of the new pricing packages we introduced in the second half of 2017.

Interest income. Interest income increased significantly from HK$105.9 million in 2017 to HK$360.6 million (US$46.0 million) in 2018, primarily attributable to the significant increase in our daily average margin financing and securities lending balance from HK$1,126.0 million in 2017 to HK$3,729.0 million (US$476.2 million) in 2018, as well as the increase in balance of client deposits and the improved return on such balance driven by (i) enhanced capital management and (ii) the increase in the benchmark interest rates in the U.S. and Hong Kong.

Other income. Other income increased significantly by 104.9% from HK$20.9 million in 2017 to HK$42.8 million (US$5.5 million) in 2018, primarily attributable to the increase in IPO subscription service charge income, underwriting fee income and enterprise public relations service charge income.

Costs

Our costs, which consist of brokerage commission and handling charge expenses, interest expenses and processing and servicing costs, increased by 128.8% from HK$109.1 million in 2017 to HK$249.6 million (US$31.9 million) in 2018 as all components of costs increased as a result of our business growth.

Brokerage commission and handling charge expenses. Brokerage commission and handling charge expenses increased by 117.9% from HK$36.8 million in 2017 to HK$80.1 million (US$10.2 million) in 2018, primarily attributable to the increase in trading volume on our platform. The brokerage commission and handling charge expenses increased in line with our brokerage commission income.

Interest expenses. Interest expenses increased by 381.0% from HK$19.9 million in 2017 to HK$95.6 million (US$12.2 million) in 2018, primarily attributable to the increase of our monthly average loan balance from

 

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HK$0.9 billion in 2017 to HK$3.2 billion (US$408.7 million) in 2018, which was primarily driven by our rapidly growing margin financing and securities lending business, and the overall increased interest rates of our borrowings from commercial banks and other financial institutions.

Processing and servicing costs. Processing and servicing costs increased by 40.8% from HK$52.4 million in 2017 to HK$73.8 million (US$9.4 million) in 2018, primarily attributable to the increase in the market information and data fees from HK$37.5 million in 2017 to HK$46.7 million (US$6.0 million) in 2018 as we upgraded and expanded our market data service.

Gross profit

As a result of the foregoing, our total gross profit significantly increased by 177.3% from HK$202.6 million in 2017 to HK$561.7 million (US$71.7 million) in 2018. Our gross profit margin increased from 65.0% in 2017 to 69.2% in 2018, primarily attributable to the decrease in brokerage commission and handling charge expenses and processing and servicing costs as percentages of our total revenues.

Operating expenses

Our total operating expenses increased by 81.7% from HK$194.3 million in 2017 to HK$353.0 million (US$45.1 million) in 2018 as research and development expenses, selling and marketing expenses and general and administrative expenses increased due to our business growth.

Research and development expenses. Our research and development expenses increased from HK$95.5 million in 2017 to HK$151.1 million (US$19.3 million) in 2018, primarily due to an increase in headcount for our research and development function to support our business growth and an increase in average compensation in line with the market trend.

Selling and marketing expenses. Our selling and marketing expenses increased from HK$41.4 million in 2017 to HK$98.1 million (US$12.5 million) in 2018, primarily due to the increase in expenses associated with our branding and marketing activities.

General and administrative expenses. Our general and administrative expenses increased from HK$57.3 million in 2017 to HK$103.8 million (US$13.3 million) in 2018. The increase was primarily due to an increase in headcount for our general and administrative personnel and an increase in average compensation in line with the market trend.

Others, net

Our others, net, which primarily consists of non-operating income and expenses and foreign currency gains and losses, increased from HK$4.9 million in 2017 to HK$8.0 million (US$1.0 million) in 2018. This increase was primarily due to the increase of accrued surcharges of the underpaid social security insurance.

(Loss)/income before income tax

As a result of the foregoing, we had income before income tax of HK$200.8 million (US$25.6 million) in 2018, compared to HK$3.4 million in 2017.

Income tax benefit/(expense)

We had income tax expense of HK$62.3 million (US$8.0 million) in 2018, compared to HK$11.5 million in 2017, primarily due to an increase of our taxable income during such year.

 

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Net (loss)/income

As a result of the foregoing, we had net income of HK$138.5 million (US$17.7 million) in 2018, compared to net loss of HK$8.1 million in 2017.

Year ended December 31, 2017 compared to year ended December 31, 2016

Revenues

Our revenues, which consist of brokerage commission and handling charge income, interest income and other income, significantly increased by 258.2% from HK$87.0 million in 2016 to HK$311.7 million in 2017. This increase was primarily due to the increases in our brokerage commission and handling charge income and interest income.

Brokerage commission and handling charge income. Brokerage commission and handling charge income increased by 148.2% from HK$74.5 million in 2016 to HK$184.9 million in 2017, primarily attributable to the increase in trading volume from HK$195.9 billion in 2016 to HK$517.9 billion in 2017. The increase in trading volume was primarily attributable to the increase in the number of paying clients from 35,456 as of December 31, 2016 to 80,057 as of December 31, 2017 and the increase in the average paying client asset balance from HK$437,626 as of December 31, 2016 to HK$554,379 as of December 31, 2017. Our commission rate remained generally stable during 2016 and 2017.

Interest income. Interest income increased significantly from HK$5.8 million in 2016 to HK$105.9 million in 2017, primarily attributable to the increase in the margin balance from HK$126.2 million in 2016 to HK$2,865.0 million in 2017, as well as the increase in balance of client deposits and the improved return on such balance driven by (i) better capital management and (ii) an increase in benchmark interest rate in the U.S. and Hong Kong.

Other income. Other income increased significantly by 210.5% from HK$6.7 million in 2016 to HK$20.9 million in 2017, primarily attributable to the increase in IPO subscription service charge income, enterprise public relations service charge income and underwriting fee income as a result of the expansion in our corporate services.

Costs

Our costs, which consist of brokerage commission and handling charge expenses, interest expenses and processing and servicing costs, increased by 142.1% from HK$45.1 million in 2016 to HK$109.1 million in 2017 as all components of costs increased due to our business growth.

Brokerage commission and handling charge expenses. Brokerage commission and handling charge expenses increased by 96.4% from HK$18.7 million in 2016 to HK$36.8 million in 2017, primarily attributable to the increase in trading volume on our platform. The brokerage commission and handling charge expenses did not increase in line with our brokerage commission income due to the tiered pricing policy adopted by clearing organizations and authorized financial institutions.

Interest expenses. Interest expenses increased by 474.7% from HK$3.5 million in 2016 to HK$19.9 million in 2017, primarily attributable to the increase of our loan balance from HK$161.2 million in 2016 to HK$1.5 billion in 2017, which was primarily attributable to the growing capital needs associated with the rapid growth of our margin financing business, and the increase in effective interest rate due to an increase in benchmark interest rates in the U.S. and Hong Kong.

Processing and servicing costs. Processing and servicing costs increased by 129.2% from HK$22.9 million in 2016 to HK$52.4 million in 2017, primarily attributable to the increase in the market information and data fees from HK$14.5 million in 2016 to HK$37.5 million in 2017 to upgrade our market data service.

 

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Gross profit

As a result of the foregoing, our total gross profit significantly increased by 382.9% from HK$41.9 million in 2016 to HK$202.6 million in 2017. Our gross profit margin increased from 48.2% in 2016 to 65.0% in 2017, primarily attributable to the decrease in brokerage commission and handling charge expenses and processing and servicing costs as percentages of our total revenues.

Operating expenses

Our total operating expenses increased by 27.3% from HK$152.6 million in 2016 to HK$194.3 million in 2017 as research and development expenses and general and administrative expenses increased due to our business growth. The increase was partially offset by the decrease in selling and marketing expenses attributable to improvement in our marketing efficiency.

Research and development expenses. Our research and development expenses increased from HK$61.6 million in 2016 to HK$95.5 million in 2017, primarily due to an increase in headcount for our research and development function to support our business growth and an increase in average compensation in line with the market trend.

Selling and marketing expenses. Our selling and marketing expenses decreased from HK$59.2 million in 2016 to HK$41.4 million in 2017, primarily attributable to the improvement of our marketing and user acquisition efficiency.

General and administrative expenses. Our general and administrative expenses increased from HK$31.8 million in 2016 to HK$57.3 million in 2017. The increase was primarily attributable to an increase in headcount for our general and administrative personnel and an increase in average compensation in line with the market trend.

Others, net

Our others, net, which primarily consists of non-operating income and expenses and foreign currency gains and losses, increased from HK$1.1 million in 2016 to HK$4.9 million in 2017. This increase was primarily due to the increase in non-operating cost incurred in relation to transaction terminations.

(Loss)/income before income tax

As a result of the foregoing, we had income before income tax of HK$3.4 million in 2017, compared to loss before income tax of HK$111.7 million in 2016.

Income tax benefit/(expense)

We had income tax expense of HK$11.5 million in 2017, compared to income tax benefit of HK$13.3 million in 2016, primarily attributable to recognition of deferred tax assets based on the evaluation of our future taxable income.

Net loss

As a result of the foregoing, we incurred net loss of HK$8.1 million in 2017, compared to net loss of HK$98.5 million in 2016. Excluding share-based compensation expenses, our adjusted net income reached HK$1.7 million in 2017, compared to an adjusted net loss of HK$89.3 million in 2016. See “Summary Consolidated Financial and Operating Data—Non-GAAP Measures” for a reconciliation of adjusted net (loss)/income to net (loss)/income.

 

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Selected Quarterly Results of Operations

The following table sets forth our unaudited consolidated quarterly results of operations for each of the eight quarters from January 1, 2017 to December 31, 2018. You should read the following table in conjunction with our consolidated financial statements and the related notes included elsewhere in this prospectus. We have prepared this unaudited condensed consolidated quarterly financial data on the same basis as we have prepared our audited consolidated financial statements. The unaudited condensed consolidated financial data include all adjustments, consisting only of normal and recurring adjustments, that our management considered necessary for a fair statement of our financial position and results of operation for the quarters presented.

 

    For the Three Months Ended,  
    March 31,
2017
    June 30,
2017
    September 30,
2017
    December 31,
2017
    March 31,
2018
    June 30,
2018
    September 30,
2018
    December 31,
2018
 
    (Unaudited)
(In HK$ thousands)
 

Revenues

               

Brokerage commission and handling charge income

    25,815       37,721       50,891       70,491       94,772       90,051       109,839    

 

113,328

 

Interest income

    6,668       12,640       32,690       53,874       66,652       87,080       104,005       102,848  

Other income

    4,232       3,878       3,832       8,931       10,985       9,101       11,682       11,000  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total revenues

    36,715       54,239       87,413       133,296       172,409       186,232       225,526       227,176  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Costs

               

Brokerage commission and handling charge expenses

    (5,240     (7,345     (9,969     (14,223     (19,364     (20,060     (20,190     (20,513

Interest expenses

    (1,935     (1,431 )      (3,564 )      (12,949 )      (17,280 )      (23,861 )      (32,035     (22,448

Processing and servicing costs

    (11,075 )      (13,158 )      (15,257 )      (12,956 )      (15,689 )      (16,485 )      (20,375     (21,294
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total costs

    (18,250 )      (21,934 )      (28,790 )      (40,128 )      (52,333 )      (60,406 )      (72,600 )      (64,255
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total gross profit

    18,465       32,305       58,623       93,168       120,076       125,826       152,926       162,921  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Operating expenses

               

Selling and marketing expenses(1)

    (4,535     (11,172     (14,536     (11,203     (10,086     (28,994     (34,591     (24,391

Research and development expenses(1)

    (19,127     (23,674     (26,605     (26,120     (30,809     (34,858     (39,990     (45,440

General and administrative expenses(1)

    (13,868     (11,693     (16,498     (15,234     (19,207     (23,166     (30,895     (30,563
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total operating expenses

    (37,530     (46,539     (57,639     (52,557     (60,102     (87,018     (105,476     (100,394
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Others, net

    (2,497     183       (661     (1,943     (62     (1,634     (4,316     (1,947

(Loss)/Income before income tax expenses

    (21,562 )      (14,051 )      323       38,668       59,912       37,174       43,134       60,580  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Income tax benefit/(expenses)

    160       520       (3,382     (8,778     (14,131     (12,937     (12,814     (22,406

Net (loss)/income

    (21,402 )      (13,531 )      (3,059 )      29,890       45,781       24,237       30,320       38,174  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

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(1)

Share-based compensation expenses were allocated in operating expenses as follows:

 

    For the Three Months Ended,  
    March 31,
2017
    June 30,
2017
    September 30,
2017
    December 31,
2017
    March 31,
2018
    June 30,
2018
    September 30,
2018
    December 31,
2018
 
    (Unaudited)
(In HK$ thousands)
 

Selling and marketing expenses

    71       70       10       10       10       10       10       74  

Research and development expenses

    2,290       2,106       2,286       2,172       2,173       2,226       2,249       2,575  

General and administrative expenses

    195       180       194       185       185       189       191       548  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total

    2,556       2,356       2,490       2,367       2,368       2,425       2,450       3,197  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Quarterly trends

We have experienced continued growth in our revenues for the eight quarters from January 1, 2017 to December 31, 2018. Driven by the continued increases in our paying client base, client assets and trading volume and margin financing balance, our revenues from both brokerage commission and handling charge income and interest income increased substantially during these periods. Revenues from brokerage commission and handling charge income decreased slightly in the second quarter of 2018 due to a slight decrease in our trading volume as a result of market volatility. Revenues from interest income slightly decreased in the fourth quarter of 2018 due to a decrease in the margin balance as a result of market volatility.

Our costs also generally increased during these periods mainly as a result of the increase in our brokerage commission and handling charge expenses, which is primarily attributed to the increase of our trading volume, and the increase in our interest expenses in line with the expansion of our margin financing business in these periods. The decrease in the interest expenses from the third quarter of 2018 to the fourth quarter of 2018 was in line with the decrease in interest income during the same period. Our quarterly operating expenses also experienced continued increase during these periods, which was mainly due to the continuous growth of our business. The decrease in our quarterly operating expenses from the third quarter of 2017 to the fourth quarter of 2017 and from the third quarter of 2018 to the fourth quarter of 2018 was primarily because we conducted less marketing and promotion activities. Meanwhile, all other components of our operating expenses generally continued to increase as we grew our business and expanded our user and client base. In particular, our research and development expenses increased substantially during these periods as we invested significantly in research and development activities to promote our technological capabilities to support our services and business operations.

Our results of operations are subject to fluctuation and changes in market conditions. For example, investor sentiment and trading volume may be influenced by capital market conditions, resulting in fluctuation in brokerage commission and fee income we earn. Our margin financing business is subject to influences from market factors such as market liquidity, interest rate and investor sentiment. The impact of fluctuation and changes of market conditions, however, was not apparent historically due to the rapid growth of our business historically. Due to our limited operating history, the trends that we have experienced in the past may not apply to, or be indicative of, our future operating results.

 

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Liquidity and Capital Resources

The following table sets forth a summary of our cash flows for the periods presented:

 

     For the Year Ended December 31,  
     2016     2017     2018  
     HK$     HK$     HK$     US$  
     (in thousands)  

Summary Consolidated Cash Flow Data:

  

Net cash generated from operating activities

     1,397,692       1,855,328