Talk of Weibo listing as China's Sina posts profit jump

SHANGHAI - Chinese Internet giant Sina said its fourth-quarter net profit surged from a year ago, amid media reports it plans an overseas listing of its popular microblog service, Weibo.

Sina is planning to spin off its Weibo platform - China's equivalent to Twitter - in a US listing to raise US$500 million (S$633 million) as early as the second quarter of this year, Dow Jones Newswires reported Tuesday, quoting people familiar with the matter.

Nasdaq-listed Sina's net income reached US$44.5 million for the three months ended in December, up from just US$2.4 million a year earlier, on the back of strong advertising sales from the microblogging service, according to a company statement.

"The strong performance of Weibo's advertising and value-added services in the fourth quarter allowed us to end 2013 with strong top line and bottom line growth," Sina chief executive and chairman Charles Chao said in the statement.

Sina's net income for all of 2013 hit US$45.1 million, up from US$31.7 million in 2012.

Weibo alone achieved its first ever operating profit in the fourth quarter of more than US$3.0 million, Chao told a conference call on Monday.

Advertising revenue from Weibo surged 163 per cent in the fourth quarter from a year earlier to US$56 million, the company statement said.

Launched in August 2009, Weibo is a social media tool featuring microblogging and networking features with tens of millions of users.

The company said it would dedicate more efforts to the development of Weibo to capitalise on the platform in the long term.

"As we enter 2014, we will continue to focus on growing Weibo's user-base and user engagement through product innovation, as well as seizing opportunities to enable us for long-term growth," Chao said in the statement.