Chinese security app vendor and Qihoo rival Cheetah files for IPO

|By:, SA News Editor

Cheetah Mobile, a Chinese provider of security, browser, and utility apps, has filed for a $500M IPO. No symbol has been given yet. Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan, Credit Suisse, and Macquarie are underwriting.

Cheetah is a subsidiary of Hong Kong-listed Kingsoft (KSFTF), which currently owns a 54.1% stake. Its product line includes file-cleaning/privacy app Clean Master (83.9M MAUs as of December), battery-saving app Battery Doctor (52.5M MAUs), Web anti-virus app Duba (141M MAUs), photo collage app Photo Grid (20.9M MAUs), and the Cheetah Browser (50.6M MAUs).

Its products square off against Qihoo's (QIHU) widely-used security apps and browser. Cheetah had 329.5M total MAUs at the end of 2013, and Qihoo 475M.

Like Qihoo, Cheetah depends heavily on ad sales (81.7% of 2013 revenue) to monetize its free apps, and also generates revenue by publishing games. Revenue soared 160% in 2013 to $123.9M; net income totaled $10.2M.

TechNode observes Cheetah CEO Sheng Fu was once the right-hand man of outspoken Qihoo CEO Hongyi Zhou. Qihoo has sued Fu for allegedly using confidential info and breaking a non-compete agreement.