Shares of Mixi Inc., Japan’s most popular social networking site, shot up during the company’s stock market debut Thursday as buy orders swamped sell orders and more than doubled its initially offered price.
As a result, no deals could be struck and the bidding price stood at 3.15 million yen per share at the end of the days’ trading, more than double its initial public offering price of 1.55 million yen.
The stock, which debuted on the Mothers market at the Tokyo Stock Exchange, is capitalized at 109.2 billion yen, based on the IPO price, making it the seventh-largest issue on Mothers.
Mixi’s jump start on Mothers has made 30-year-old founder Kenji Kasahara an instant billionaire. Kasahara, a University of Tokyo business graduate, owns 65 percent, or 45,700 shares, of Mixi.
“I feel a heavy sense of responsibility (to the shareholders) and will do my utmost to respond to their expectations by achieving results,” Kasahara said at a news conference at the TSE.
Kasahara started an online job search site while he was a student that instantly became a hit. After surviving the collapse of the IT bubble in 2001, he introduced SNS, which had become popular in the United States, to Japan for the first time in 2004.
Membership at the invitation-only Mixi site (mixi.jp) — was more than 5 million as of July. Kasahara said Mixi aims to expand the membership to 8 million by next March.
Mixi’s popularity reflects Japanese Internet user’s recent preference for exchanging words on member-only Web sites rather than online message boards open to anyone. Such message boards are often ravaged by anonymous writers posting spam messages.
Members of the Mixi site, started in February 2004, can exchange profiles and other information as well as share their online diaries.
The popularity of social networking services is surging in Japan. According to government statistics, there were 7.16 million SNS members in Japan as of the end of March this year, about 6.5 times that from a year earlier.
The Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry forecasts that the number will top 10 million before the end of March next year.
Brokers said Mixi is drawing attention from individual investors and that its public offering could get the market for emerging firms back on course after the turbulence created by the Livedoor affair wreaked havoc on the market. Livedoor was delisted from the Mothers market in April.
But some expressed concern over an increasing number of listings by newly emerging Net firms whose stocks they think do not deserve to be publicly offered.
“There are many newly listed Net firms that have not shown a sufficient blueprint of future growth. We can say the same thing about Mixi,” said Kenichi Azuma, an equity strategist at Cosmo Securities Co. “Mixi has failed to explain in detail how it could use its large membership to make profits.”
For fiscal 2006 ending next March, Mixi projects an unconsolidated net profit of 900 million yen, 1.7 times that of the previous fiscal year, on sales of 4.7 billion yen, about 2.5 times that of fiscal 2005.
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