Chinese IT outsourcers turn to Wall Street

China-based companies responsible for one-third of venture-backed IPOs

WASHINGTON -- While President Barack Obama met Wednesday with the CEOs of some of America's largest companies to discuss ideas for expanding the economy and creating jobs, a Chinese outsourcing firm was raising cash to help it expand in the U.S. market.

Beijing-based iSoftStone Holdings held its initial public offering (IPO) on Wednesday. It sold 10.8 million shares at $13 per share, raising about $140.8 million. The company is now listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

ISoftStone has about 10,000 employees, mostly in China, but is seeking U.S. clients. To help accomplish that, in October iSoftStone acquired Ascend, a Waltham, Mass.-based IT consulting firm with Fortune 1000 clients.

It believes Ascend will help it reach new markets, "as many global banking and financial institutions are increasingly seeking to work with China-based providers for IT and BPO services," Tianwen (TW) Liu, the company's founder, chairman and CEO, said at the time of the acquisition.

President Obama met for more than four hours, in private, with the CEOs from firms such as Google, Intel, Cisco, GE and others, to talk about innovation, education, global trade and exports.

These things are what China is seeking as well, and iSoftStone's route shows how China-based companies may improve their ability to compete in the U.S. for outsourcing work and high-skilled jobs.

And iSoftStone isn't the only outsourcing company from China to issue an IPO this year. HiSoft Technology International, of Dalian, in the country's northeast, was listed on the NASDAQ in June. It claimed to be the first Chinese IT and BPO outsourcing company to complete an IPO.

Beijing-based Camelot Information Systems went public in July. The company says it is the largest domestic provider of SAP-based ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) services in China.

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