Summary:

China’s Communist Party is doing a good impression of a Silicon Valley news startup, as it floats its official newspaper’s web operation to finance catching up commercial services.

Shanghai skyline, China
photo: Robert S. Donovan

What’s the difference between communism and capitalism anymore?

The People’s Daily newspaper, an organ of China’s ruling Communist Party, has tripled the amount it expects to raise through the IPO floatation of its online publishing operations.

The portal now plans to raise 1.55 billion yuan ($245.45 million) in Shanghai, Reuters reports. That is more than the 527 million yuan its prospectus said it aimed to raise, as paidContent reported in January.

People’s Daily, which also publishes in English, wants “to maintain and enhance the company’s competitive position in the industry, thus further improving the company’s profitability and social impact”.

But it also wants to remain relevant and influential to a younger generation of citizen that is rapidly adopting social media to share its own news.

In China, commercial online brands like Sina (NSDQ: SINA) with its market-leading Weibo microblog service, Tencent and Youku are becoming dominant. People’s Daily Online, with 19 million monthly uniques, lags rivals significantly – Sina’s portal had 247 million uniques, the prospectus conceded.

The publisher also wants to invest in meeting the mobile news opportunity.

This is the first IPO of a Chinese state media website.

In the first half of 2011, People’s Daily Online made a 30 million yuan profit on 211 million yuan revenue.

The People’s Daily newspaper held 79.54 percent of shares in the web operation. Other shareholders included the mobile networks China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom.

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