(Bloomberg) -- Chinese online tutoring platform Zuoyebang has filed confidentially for an initial public offering in the US, according to people familiar with the matter, who said the move may signal an easing of Beijing’s crackdown on private education firms.

The company is working with advisers on the potential listing that could take place as early as this year, the people said, asking not to be identified discussing a private matter. The company may raise less than $100 million from the share sale, one of the people said.

The planned share sale comes more than two years after China unleashed a campaign against the online tutoring industry, which was one of the country’s hottest investments. Curbs included banning companies that teach the school curriculum from making profits, raising capital or going public. The crackdown shocked global investors and decimated a large portion of the $100 billion industry.

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Deliberations are ongoing and the company may still decide against moving ahead with an IPO in the US, the people said. A representative for the company didn’t immediately respond to a request seeking comment.

The filing adds to signs Beijing is looking to boost funding channels for its tech industry. On Friday, the Chinese securities regulator said it would support overseas listings of tech firms as well as encourage Hong Kong share sales. Autonomous driving startup Pony.ai received approval by the China Securities Regulatory Commission for a US IPO, according to a statement on Tuesday.

Chinese listings in the US collapsed in the past several years due to tighter scrutiny by regulators. Since the start of 2022, only one Chinese IPO in the US has exceeded $100 million — Hesai Group, a developer of sensor technologies used in self-driving cars. That’s a far cry from 2021, when a dozen companies each raised more than double that figure, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Beijing-based Zuoyebang, which counts Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., HongShan Capital and Softbank Vision Fund among its backers, now offers education tools and engages in using artificial intelligence technologies to facilitate teaching and learning, according to its website.

The company is a spinoff of China’s search engine titan Baidu Inc and was founded in 2015 by former Baidu executive Hou Jianbin. In 2021 Zuoyebang was aiming to list in the US to raise at least $500 million before the clampdown scuppered its plans.


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