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TIMELINE-Luckin Coffee's journey from hot startup to $5bln share…


By Julie Zhu

HONG KONG, April 3 (Reuters) – Here is a timeline of the Nasdaq-listed Luckin Coffee Inc’s journey from a hot Chinese start-up to U.S.

IPO and now an investigation for alleged fraud. January 2018 – Luckin Coffee, co-founded by CEO Qian Zhiya, the former chief operating officer of car rental firm Car Inc and two other senior executives, officially started operations in Beijing and Shanghai.

June 2018 – Luckin raised $200 million in its maiden fundraising round website which valued the startup at $1 billion and made it one of the quickest firms to reach ‘unicorn’ status in China.

Investors included Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC, Chinese investment firms Centurium Capital and Joy Capital. November 2018 – Luckin raised $200 million website in its second funding round which increased the company’s valuation to $2.2 billion. Investors included GIC, Centurium Capital, Joy Capital and CICC.

April 2019 – Luckin raised $150 million in a pre-IPO fundraising round from investors including BlackRock Inc, which valued the company at $2.9 billion. May 2019 – Luckin priced its U.S.

initial public offering at $17 per share and raised $645 million after fully exercising the greenshoe option. The float was the second biggest U.S. IPO by a Chinese firm last year, according to Refinitiv.

December 2019 – Luckin overtook Starbucks as China’s biggest coffee chain by number of stores.

Luckin said it had just over 4,500 stores – achieving a goal it set one year ago and topping Starbucks which had 4,100.

January 2020 – Luckin expanded into vending machines to sell freshly brewed hot beverages and snacks, seeking even more of the China market.

It also completed a follow-on share sale and a convertible bond worth a combined $980 million. February 2020 – Short-seller Muddy Waters Research shorted the Luckin stock, citing an anonymous report that questioned the coffee chain’s financials. Luckin called the report’s methodology flawed and denied all allegations.

April 2020 – Luckin said on April 2 that an internal investigation had shown its chief operating officer, Jian Liu, and other employees fabricated sales transactions.

Its shares fell as much as 81% in New York on Thursday, wiping $5 billion off its market capitalisation. (Reporting by Julie Zhu; Additional reporting by Pei Li; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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