Tencent Holdings says it is divesting some of its shares in Singapore-based e-commerce operator Sea, estimated to be worth some $3 billion. The sale will see the Chinese tech giant's stake in Sea drop from 21.3% to 18.7%, and voting power reduced to less than 10%.
In a statement released Wednesday, Tencent said it was offloading almost 14.5 million shares in the Singapore company, which had experienced "significant growth and expansion in its global business operations". Proceeds from the transaction would facilitate Tencent's other investments and social initiatives, the Chinese vendor said.
It added that it planned to retain most of its remaining equity stake in Sea over "the long term", alongside their existing business relationships. Tencent would be subject to a lockup period that prevented it from selling more Sea shares over the next six months.
NYSE-listed Sea saw its share price dip 11.41% at the end of trading day, closing at $197.81.
The Singapore company last September shored up $6.3 billion in funds from the sale of American Depository Receipts and convertible senior notes. Net proceeds from the sale would be tapped to drive its business expansion and other "general corporate purposes", including strategic investments and acquisitions, said Sea, which owns e-commerce platform Shopee.
In its own statement, Sea said it would hold an annual general meeting on February 14, during which shareholders would vote on Tencent's plans to divest its shares and convert all of its Class B ordinary shares. All outstanding Class B shares then would be beneficially owned by Sea's founder, chairman, and CEO Forrest Li, accounting for 57% of total voting power.
The company's board said in the statement it was in Sea's "best interests" in driving long-term growth strategies to "clarify its capital structure" through the proposed changes.
Citi said in a report Wednesday that Tencent's move to lower its voting right could reduce potential conflict should it plan to publish more games in global markets. "[It would] help reduce any potential geopolitical friction if [or] when Sea plans to expand more strategically into new markets in more countries," Citi said.
Tencent's move also comes days after it announced in a filing it would hand out an estimated $16 billion worth of its shares in JD.com as dividends to shareholders. The move would slash its stake in the Chinese e-commerce giant from its current 17% to 2.3%, relinquishing its place as JD.com's biggest shareholder to Walmart, which owns a 9.3% stake.
The sale of some 457.33 million shares accounted for 86.4% of shares in JD.com, or about 14.7% of JD.com's total issued shares.