China's largest provider of on-demand online services, Meituan-Dianping, has tapped Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs Group Inc and Morgan Stanley to work on a Hong Kong float that could see it list as early as later this year, five people with knowledge of the move said.
Meituan-Dianping, an online platform for ordering food and booking movies and restaurants, has recently started preparatory work for the IPO, aided by the three Wall Street banks, the people told Reuters.
No formal mandate to investment banks for managing the IPO has been awarded yet, they said.
The company, formed in 2015 from the billion merger of Groupon-like Meituan and Yelp-like Dianping, is looking to benefit from the bull run in technology stocks, said three of the people.
The Hong Kong-listed shares of existing investor Tencent Holdings, for instance, have risen about 90 percent in 2017, outpacing a 51 percent rise in the benchmark Hang Seng Index.
In October, Meituan-Dianping was valued at billion following a billion funding round led by Tencent.
The people said it was too early to determine an IPO valuation as discussions are still at a preliminary stage.
Reuters reported in November that Meituan-Dianping, which offers a broad range of services including travel packages, was considering an IPO in the US as soon as this year.
The IPO proceeds could provide funds for investments in physical retail outlets and artificial intelligence, said one of the people, pitching it against China's leading e-commerce players including Alibaba Group Holding and JD.com Inc.
Meituan-Dianping said in February that it had about 320 million active buyers and more than 4 million merchants with total revenue reaching .4 billion in 2017.