Imagine trying to explain the Onion to someone who doesn’t speak English.
Hong Kong’s version of The Onion just made a mint on its IPO (and then lost a bunch again)
That’s what it’s like trying to explain 100Most to a non-Hongkonger.
In-jokes, multilingual puns and parodies so dense they’re basically untranslatable.
The weekly magazine, website and its TV channel TVMost bring an irreverent, satirical edge to the city’s many woes, tied up in sight gags and convoluted puns – and mostly at the expense of the city’s biggest TV broadcaster, TVB.
And now it’s a record breaker.
The initial public offering of 100Most’s parent company Most Kwai Chung broke records in Hong Kong on Wednesday, setting the city’s biggest ever first-day gains.
The stock soared by as much as 880% of its listing price. Its shares were 6,289 times oversubscribed, meaning investors sought to buy 6,289 times more shares than were on offer.
Following an IPO price of 15 cents, Most Kwai Chung opened at $1.07 before hitting a high of $1.50 – ten times the original offering.
The stock closed at 81 cents, with 185 million shares having changed hands.
That left it with a market capitalization of $219.2 million, making it more valuable than a wide range of established Hong Kong media companies.
100Most was founded in 2013 by three 30-something Hongkongers, and online video platform TVMost followed in 2015.
It made a quick name for itself through its razor-sharp wit, subversive approach to authority and its ability to tap into Hong Kong’s youth and pop culture.
The staff seemed like accessible, average joes in a society that values extreme achievement
In January 2016 it held the “TVMost 1st Guy Ten Big Ging Cook Gum Cook Awards Distribution” (yes, that's the official name in English) – a spoof of the city’s annual schmaltzy TV awards.
The show was able to make a stand for Hong Kong identity, which many felt was under threat due to growing ties with mainland China.
Particularly successful was a song and rap performed in fluent Cantonese by Hong Kong-Aussie actor and singer Gregory Rivers.
Stocks and love
“We feel surprised about the market response,” company spokesman Ivan Yuen said at the listing ceremony on Wednesday.
Yuen is better known as his loveless, hapless geeky alter ego “Expert Dickson,” and he answered most questions in this vein.
When asked what he hoped for the company after the successful listing, he replied: “I think the moldy food in the refrigerator will be cleaned up.”
He said he also hoped that his love life would improve.
“Expert Dickson” is known for giving love advice at TVMost, although the character has never been in a romantic relationship.
Most Kwai Chung’s shares crashed on Thursday by more than 45%, inviting assumptions that most investors had been drawn to the brand name and had been in search of a quick profit.
“The valuation yesterday was too high,” Kenny Tang, chief executive of China Hong Kong Capital Asset Management, told Inkstone. “New shares were very limited, and the fundraising was minimal – it was just trading on supply and demand.”
“In 2017, [Most Kwai Chung’s] profits were only HK$36 million ($4.6 millon). So a market cap of close to $2 billion ($255 million) means the valuation was unreasonable.”
The company's current market cap is around $120 million – still higher, for now, than established Hong Kong news organizations Sing Tao News Corp ($111.5 million) or Hong Kong Economic Times Holdings ($78.6 million).
Fake (or parody) news appears to be beating the truth once again.