Chinese fund finds room for $100m stake in tech darling Airbnb

(c) Sky News 2017: <a href="http://news.sky.com/story/chinese-fund-finds-room-for-100m-stake-in-tech-darling-airbnb-10797123">Chinese fund finds room for $100m stake in tech darling Airbnb</a>
 

China’s sovereign wealth fund has snapped up a stake in Airbnb, the room-sharing service which this week cemented its status as one of the world’s most valuable technology companies.

Sky News has learnt that China Investment Corporation (CIC (Shenzhen: 000038.SZ - news) ) subscribed to roughly 10% of a $1bn (£822m) funding round disclosed by Airbnb in a filing with US securities regulators.

The move adds China's state-backed investment fund - which holds stakes in companies such as Thames Water and Heathrow Airport Holdings - to a list of investors that includes Google's venture capital arm.

It underlines the strategic importance to technology groups such as Airbnb of making strong inroads into the Chinese market - a prospect which partly explains the rapid escalation in the company's value.

By comparison, Facebook (NasdaqGS: FB - news) has a market valuation of almost $400bn, while Twitter (Frankfurt: A1W6XZ - news) is valued at just over $11bn.

CIC is understood to be one of roughly 40 investors in the latest fundraising, which was reported to have valued Airbnb at $31bn (£25.4bn).

The Airbnb fundraising comes amid a continuing frenzy of interest surrounding US technology groups.

Snap Inc, the parent company of messaging service Snapchat, floated in New York last week at an initial valuation of about $24bn, while Uber and Spotify - two other richly valued start-ups - are also tipped to go public in the next few years.

The latest private fundraising by Airbnb suggests it is unlikely to pursue a stock market listing in the near term.

Airbnb was co-founded in 2008 by Brian Chesky, who remains the company's chief executive and is estimated by Forbes magazine to have a fortune worth $3.8bn.

Mr Chesky was among a group of tech bosses who in January opposed an executive order from President Donald Trump to restrict entry into the US, with the Airbnb boss offering free housing to refugees.

The company's soaring valuation has not been achieved without significant hurdles, however.

Airbnb has faced hostility from hoteliers in a number of countries around the world, with opponents in France this week arguing that short-term lets of the kind made available on the technology company's platforms are illegal.

The company has also spawned a range of competitors, some of which have taken singnificant market share from Airbnb.

Neither Airbnb nor CIC could be reached for comment on Friday.

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