UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

WASHINGTON, D.C. 20549

 

 

 

FORM 20-F

 

 

 

REGISTRATION STATEMENT PURSUANT TO SECTION 12(b) OR (g) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

 

OR

 

ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

 

For the fiscal year ended September 30, 2023

 

OR

 

TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

 

OR

 

SHELL COMPANY REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

 

Date of event requiring this shell company report

 

For the transition period from                  to                

 

Commission file number: 001-39111

 

 

 

FLJ Group Limited
(Exact name of Registrant as specified in its charter)

 

 

 

Cayman Islands
(Jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)

 

Room 1610
No. 917, East Longhua Road
Huangpu District, Shanghai, 200023
People’s Republic of China
(Address of principal executive offices)

 

Chengcai Qu, Chief Executive Officer
Phone: +86-21-6422-8532
Email: ccqu@qk365.com

 

Room 1610
No. 917, East Longhua Road
Huangpu District, Shanghai, 200023
People’s Republic of China
(Name, Telephone, E-mail and/or Facsimile number and Address of Company Contact Person)

 

 

 

Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act.

 

Title of each class   Trading Symbol(s)   Name of each exchange on which registered

American depositary shares (one American depositary share representing six hundred thousand (600,000) Class A ordinary shares, par value US$0.0000001 per share)

  FLJ   NASDAQ Global Market
Class A ordinary shares, par value US$0.0000001 per share*        

 

*As of the date of this annual report. Not for trading, but only in connection with the listing of American depositary shares on the NASDAQ Global Market.

 

 

 

Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act.

 

Not Applicable
(Title of Class)

 

Securities for which there is a reporting obligation pursuant to Section 15(d) of the Act.

 

Not Applicable
(Title of Class)

 

 

 

 

 

 

As of September 30, 2023, there were 2,837,892,046,400 ordinary shares outstanding, consisting of 2,587,892,046,400 Class A ordinary shares and 250,000,000,000 Class B ordinary shares, all with a par value of US$0.0000001 per share.

 

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes No

 

If this report is an annual or transition report, indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Yes No

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. Yes No

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§ 232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit and post such files). Yes No

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act. (Check one):

 

Large accelerated filer Accelerated filer Non-accelerated filer
    Emerging growth company

 

If an emerging growth company that prepares its financial statements in accordance with U.S. GAAP, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards† provided pursuant to Section 13 (a) of the Exchange Act.

 

The term “new or revised financial accounting standard” refers to any update issued by the Financial Accounting Standards Board to its Accounting Standards Codification after April 5, 2012.

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report.

 

If securities are registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act, indicate by check mark whether the financial statements of the registrant included in the filing reflect the correction of an error to previously issued financial statements.

 

Indicate by check mark whether any of those error corrections are restatements that required a recovery analysis of incentive- based compensation received by any of the registrant’s executive officers during the relevant recovery period pursuant to §240.10D-1(b).

 

Indicate by check mark which basis of accounting the registrant has used to prepare the financial statements included in this filing:

 

U.S. GAAP International Financial Reporting Standards as issued by the International Accounting Standards Board Other

 

If “Other” has been checked in response to the previous question, indicate by check mark which financial statement item the registrant has elected to follow. Item 17 Item 18

 

If this is an annual report, indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act). Yes No

 

(APPLICABLE ONLY TO ISSUERS INVOLVED IN BANKRUPTCY PROCEEDINGS DURING THE PAST FIVE YEARS)

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed all documents and reports required to be filed by Sections 12, 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 subsequent to the distribution of securities under a plan confirmed by a court. Yes No

 

 

 

 

 

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

INTRODUCTION   ii
FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS   iv
PART I   1
ITEM 1. IDENTITY OF DIRECTORS, SENIOR MANAGEMENT AND ADVISERS   6
ITEM 2. OFFER STATISTICS AND EXPECTED TIMETABLE   6
ITEM 3. KEY INFORMATION   6
ITEM 4. INFORMATION ON THE COMPANY   43
ITEM 4A. UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS   67
ITEM 5. OPERATING AND FINANCIAL REVIEW AND PROSPECTS   68
ITEM 6. DIRECTORS, SENIOR MANAGEMENT AND EMPLOYEES   74
ITEM 7. MAJOR SHAREHOLDERS AND RELATED PARTY TRANSACTIONS   85
ITEM 8. FINANCIAL INFORMATION   86
ITEM 9. THE OFFER AND LISTING   87
ITEM 10. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION   87
ITEM 11. QUANTITATIVE AND QUALITATIVE DISCLOSURES ABOUT MARKET RISK   95
ITEM 12. DESCRIPTION OF SECURITIES OTHER THAN EQUITY SECURITIES   98
PART II   98
ITEM 13. DEFAULTS, DIVIDEND ARREARAGES AND DELINQUENCIES   98
ITEM 14. MATERIAL MODIFICATIONS TO THE RIGHTS OF SECURITY HOLDERS AND USE OF PROCEEDS   98
ITEM 15. CONTROLS AND PROCEDURES   98
ITEM 16A. AUDIT COMMITTEE FINANCIAL EXPERT   99
ITEM 16B. CODE OF ETHICS   99
ITEM 16C. PRINCIPAL ACCOUNTANT FEES AND SERVICES   99
ITEM 16D. EXEMPTIONS FROM THE LISTING STANDARDS FOR AUDIT COMMITTEES   100
ITEM 16E. PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES BY THE ISSUER AND AFFILIATED PURCHASERS   100
ITEM 16F. CHANGE IN REGISTRANT’S CERTIFYING ACCOUNTANT   100
ITEM 16G. CORPORATE GOVERNANCE   100
ITEM 16H. MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURE   101
ITEM 16I. DISCLOSURE REGARDING FOREIGN JURISDICTIONS THAT PREVENT INSPECTIONS   101
ITEM 16J. INSIDER TRADING POLICIES   101
ITEM 16K. CYBERSECURITY   101
PART III   102
ITEM 17. FINANCIAL STATEMENTS   102
ITEM 18. FINANCIAL STATEMENTS   102
ITEM 19. EXHIBITS   102
SIGNATURES   105

 

i

 

 

INTRODUCTION

 

Unless otherwise indicated or the context otherwise requires in this annual report on Form 20-F:

 

“ADSs” refers to our American depositary shares, each of which represents 600,000 Class A ordinary shares as of the date of this annual report;

 

  “Acquisition” has the meaning ascribed to it in the note below**;

 

“Alpha Mind” refers to Alpha Mind Technology Limited, a company incorporated under the laws of the British Virgin Islands, and, if applicable, its consolidated entities;

 

  “China” or the “PRC” refers to the People’s Republic of China, including, for the purposes of this annual report, Hong Kong and Macau, unless referencing specific laws and regulations and other legal and tax matters applicable only to mainland China, and excluding, for the purposes of this annual report only, Taiwan;

 

“CBIRC” means the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission;

 

  “Continuing Operations” has the meaning ascribed to it in the note below*;

 

“Current VIEs” refer to Huaming Insurance Agency Co., Ltd. and Huaming Yunbao (Tianjin) Technology Co., Ltd.**;

 

“Current WFOE” refer to Jiachuang Yingan (Beijing) Information & Technology Co., Ltd.**;

 

“Discontinued Operations” has the meaning ascribed to it in the note below*;

 

“Disposal” has the meaning ascribed to it in “Item 4. Information on the Company—A. History and development of the Company”;

 

“Disposed Business” has the meaning ascribed to it in “Item 4. Information on the Company—A. History and development of the Company”;

 

“Former VIE” or “Q&K E-commerce” refers to Shanghai Qingke E-commerce Co., Ltd.*;

 

“Former VIE entities” refer to Qingke (China) Limited or Q&K HK, Shanghai Qingke Investment Consulting Co., Ltd. and Shanghai Qingke E-commerce Co., Ltd. and its subsidiaries*;

 

“Former WFOE” or “Q&K Investment Consulting” refers to Shanghai Qingke Investment Consulting Co., Ltd.*;

 

“Notes” has the meaning ascribed to it in “Item 4. Information on the Company—A. History and development of the Company”;

 

“ordinary shares” refers to our Class A ordinary shares and Class B ordinary shares, par value US$0.0000001 per share as of the date of this annual report;

 

  “RMB” and “Renminbi” refer to the legal currency of mainland China;

 

“US$,” “U.S. dollars,” “$,” and “dollars” refer to the legal currency of the United States;

 

“VIE” refers to variable interest entity; and

 

  “we,” “us,” “our company,” “our,” “the Company”, and “the Group” means, FLJ Group Limited and its subsidiaries, which include Alpha Mind following the consummation of the Acquisition. FLJ Group Limited is a Cayman Islands holding company with no operations of its own and conducts its business through its subsidiaries and the Current VIEs in China. The Current VIEs are consolidated for accounting purposes but are not entities in which FLJ Group Limited owns any equity.  

 

* On October 26, 2021 and December 17, 2021, FLJ Group Limited (together with its consolidated subsidiaries, the “Group”) transferred of all of its equity interest in Shanghai Qingke Investment Consulting Co., Ltd. (“Q&K Investment Consulting”) and Qingke (China) Limited (“Q&K HK”), respectively, to Wangxiancai Limited, which was a related party of the Group and is beneficially owned by the legal representative and executive director of one of the Group’s subsidiaries (the “First Equity Transfer”). As of September 30, 2022, the Group did not account for the transfer of equity interest in Q&K HK, Q&K Investment Consulting and Q&K E-commerce as a discontinued operation, as FLJ Group Limited was the primary beneficiary of Q&K HK, Q&K Investment Consulting and Q&K E-commerce as FLJ Group Limited had the power to direct the activities of these companies that most significantly impact their economic performance and FLJ Group Limited had the obligation to absorb losses of these companies that could potentially be significant to these companies since their inception. On October 31, 2023, the Group transferred of all of its equity interest in Haoju (Shanghai) Artificial Intelligence Technology Co., Ltd. (“Haoju”), to Wangxiancai Limited, at nominal consideration (the “Second Equity Transfer”). Upon the completion of the Second Equity Transfer, the Group no longer conducts long-term apartment rental business in China. The disposals of Q&K Investment Consulting, Q&K HK and Haoju are accounted as discontinued operations (“Discontinued Operations”). The remaining ongoing business operations of our Group (excluding these disposed entities) are accounted as continuing operations (“Continuing Operations”).  See Note 1—Organization and Principal Activities to our consolidated financial statements for more information.

 

ii

 

 

** On November 22, 2023, we entered into an equity acquisition agreement with Alpha Mind, an insurance agency and insurance technology business in the PRC, and Alpha Mind’s shareholders to acquire all of the issued and outstanding shares in Alpha Mind (the “Acquisition”). The Acquisition of Alpha Mind was consummated on December 28, 2023. Alpha Mind conducts its insurance agency and insurance technology businesses in the PRC through its indirectly wholly-owned subsidiary, Jiachuang Yingan (Beijing) Information & Technology Co., Ltd. (the “Current WFOE”) and the Current WFOE’s consolidated variable interest entities. In April 2022, Alpha Mind, through the Current WFOE, entered into contractual arrangements with Huaming Insurance Agency Co., Ltd. (“Huaming Insurance”) and Huaming Yunbao (Tianjin) Technology Co., Ltd. (“Huaming Yunbao, together with Huaming Insurance, the “Current VIEs”), respectively. The contractual arrangements enable Alpha Mind to obtain control over the Current VIEs.

 

Our fiscal year-end is September 30. “FY 2021” refers to our fiscal year ended September 30, 2021, “FY 2022” refers to our fiscal year ended September 30, 2022, and “FY 2023” refers to our fiscal year ended September 30, 2023.

 

Our reporting currency is the Renminbi. This annual report on Form 20-F also contains translations of certain foreign currency amounts into U.S. dollars for the convenience of the reader. Unless otherwise stated, all translations from Renminbi to U.S. dollars were made at RMB7.2960 to US$1.00, the noon buying rate on September 30, 2023 set forth in the H.10 statistical release of the U.S. Federal Reserve Board. We make no representation that the Renminbi or U.S. dollar amounts referred to in this annual report could have been or could be converted into U.S. dollars or Renminbi, as the case may be, at any particular rate or at all. The PRC government restricts or prohibits the conversion of Renminbi into foreign currency and foreign currency into Renminbi for certain types of transactions. On February 2, 2024, the noon buying rate set forth in the H.10 statistical release of the Federal Reserve Board was RMB7.1920 to US$1.00.

 

Names of certain companies provided in this annual report are translated or transliterated from their original Chinese legal names.

 

Discrepancies in any table between the amounts identified as total amounts and the sum of the amounts listed therein are due to rounding.

 

iii

 

 

FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

 

This annual report on Form 20-F contains forward-looking statements that reflect our current expectations and views of future events. Known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors, including those listed under “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors,” may cause our actual results, performance or achievements to be materially different from those expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements. These statements are made under the “safe harbor” provisions of the U.S. Private Securities Litigations Reform Act of 1995.

 

You can identify some of these forward-looking statements by words or phrases such as “may,” “will,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “aim,” “estimate,” “intend,” “plan,” “believe,” “is/are likely to,” “potential,” “continue” or other similar expressions. We have based these forward-looking statements largely on our current expectations and projections about future events that we believe may affect our financial condition, results of operations, business strategy and financial needs. These forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements relating to:

 

our mission and strategies;

 

our ability to continue as a going concern;

 

our ability to integrate strategic investments, acquisitions and new business initiatives;

 

our ability to continuously develop new technology, services and products and keep up with changes in the industries in which we operate;

 

our ability to achieve or maintain profitability;

 

general economic and business condition in China and elsewhere, particularly the insurance agency industry;

 

our expectations regarding demand for and market acceptance of the products and services provided on our platform;

 

our ability to retain our customer base after the Acquisition, build customer loyalty and increase recognition of the Alpha Mind brand;

 

our relationship with financial institution partners and third party product and service providers; and

 

competition in the insurance agency industry.

 

These forward-looking statements involve various risks and uncertainties. Although we believe that our expectations expressed in these forward-looking statements are reasonable, our expectations may later be found to be incorrect. Our actual results could be materially different from our expectations. You should thoroughly read this annual report and the documents that we refer to with the understanding that our actual future results may be materially different from and worse than what we expect. We qualify all of our forward-looking statements by these cautionary statements.

 

This annual report contains certain data and information that we obtained from various government and private publications. Statistical data in these publications also include projections based on a number of assumptions. Our industry may not grow at the rate projected by market data, or at all. Failure of this market to grow at the projected rate may have material and adverse effect on our business and the market price of our ADSs. In addition, the rapidly changing nature of China’s branded long-term apartment rental industry results in significant uncertainties for any projections or estimates relating to the growth prospects or future condition of our market. Furthermore, if any one or more of the assumptions underlying the market data are later found to be incorrect, actual results may differ from the projections based on these assumptions. You should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements.

 

The forward-looking statements made in this annual report relate only to events or information as of the date on which the statements are made in this annual report. Except as required by law, we undertake no obligation to update or revise publicly any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, after the date on which the statements are made or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events.

 

iv

 

 

ENFORCEABILITY OF CIVIL LIABILITIES

 

We and the Current VIEs conduct substantially all of our operations in China and substantially all of our assets are located in China. In addition, a majority of our directors and executive officers reside within China, and most of the assets of these persons are located within China. As a result, it may be difficult for a shareholder to effect service of process within the United States upon us or these persons, or to enforce against us or them judgments obtained in United States courts, including judgments predicated upon the civil liability provisions of the securities laws of the United States or any state in the United States. It may also be difficult for a shareholder to enforce judgments obtained in U.S. courts based on the civil liability provisions of the U.S. federal securities laws against us and these persons located in China.

 

The recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments are provided for under the PRC Civil Procedure Law. PRC courts may recognize and enforce foreign judgments in accordance with the requirements of the PRC Civil Procedure Law based either on treaties between China and the country where the judgment is made or on reciprocity between different jurisdictions, and PRC courts will not recognize or enforce these foreign judgments if PRC courts believe the foreign judgments violate the basic principles of PRC laws or national sovereignty, security or public interest after review. However, currently, China does not have treaties or reciprocity arrangement providing for recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments ruled by courts in the United States. Thus, we believe that it is uncertain whether and on what basis a PRC court would enforce a judgment ruled by a court in the United States. As such, there is uncertainty as to the cost and time constraints associated with seeking enforcement of such a judgement in PRC.

 

In addition, under the PRC Civil Procedures Law, foreign shareholders may originate actions based on PRC law against a company in China for disputes if they can establish sufficient nexus to the PRC for a PRC court to have jurisdiction, and meet other procedural requirements, including, among others, the plaintiff must have a direct interest in the case, and there must be a concrete claim, a factual basis and a cause for the suit. We believe that it will be, however, difficult for U.S. shareholders to originate actions against us in the PRC in accordance with PRC laws by virtue only of holding securities, to establish a connection to the PRC for a PRC court to have jurisdiction as required under the PRC Civil Procedures Law.

 

v

 

 

PART I

 

Risks Associated with Being Based in or Having the Majority of the Operations in China

 

We are exposed to legal and operational risks associated with our operations in China. The PRC government has significant authority to exert influence on the ability of a company with operations in China, including us, to conduct its business. Changes in China’s economic, political or social conditions or government policies could materially and adversely affect our business and results of operations. We are subject to risks due to the uncertainty of the interpretation and the application of the PRC laws and regulations, including but not limited to the risks of uncertainty about any future actions of the PRC government on U.S. listed companies. We may also be subject to sanctions imposed by PRC regulatory agencies, including China Securities Regulatory Commission (the “CSRC”), if we fail to comply with their rules and regulations. Any actions by the PRC government to exert more oversight and control over offerings that are conducted overseas and/or foreign investment in companies having operations in China, including us, could significantly limit or completely hinder our ability to offer or continue to offer securities to investors, and cause the value of our securities to significantly decline or become worthless. These China-related risks could result in a material change in our operating entities and the Current VIEs’ operations and/or the value of our securities, or could significantly limit or completely hinder our ability to offer securities to investors in the future and cause the value of such securities to significantly decline or become worthless.

 

The PRC government may exert, at any time, substantial intervention and influence over the manner our operations. In recent years, the PRC government initiated a series of regulatory actions and statements to regulate business operations in China with little advance notice, including cracking down on illegal activities in the securities market, enhancing supervision over China-based companies listed overseas, adopting new measures to extend the scope of cybersecurity reviews and new laws and regulations related to data security, and expanding the efforts in anti-monopoly enforcement.

 

The regulatory framework for the collection, use, safeguarding, sharing, transfer and other processing of personal information and important data worldwide is rapidly evolving in PRC and is likely to remain uncertain for the foreseeable future. Regulatory authorities in China have implemented and are considering a number of legislative and regulatory proposals concerning data protection. For example, the PRC Cybersecurity Law, which became effective in June 2017, established China’s first national-level data protection for “network operators,” which may include all organizations in China that connect to or provide services over the internet or other information network. The PRC Data Security Law, which was promulgated by the Standing Committee of PRC National People’s Congress, or the SCNPC, on June 10, 2021 and became effective on September 1, 2021, outlines the main system framework of data security protection.

 

In December 2021, the Cyberspace Administration of China (the “CAC”) promulgated the amended Measures of Cybersecurity Review which require cyberspace operators with personal information of more than one million users to file for cybersecurity review with the Cybersecurity Review Office (“CRO”), in the event such operators plan for an overseas listing. The amended Measures of Cybersecurity Review provide that, among others, an application for cybersecurity review must be made by an issuer that is a “critical information infrastructure operator” or a “data processing operator” as defined therein before such issuer’s securities become listed in a foreign country, if the issuer possesses personal information of more than one million users, and that the relevant governmental authorities in the PRC may initiate cybersecurity review if such governmental authorities determine an operator’s cyber products or services, data processing or potential listing in a foreign country affect or may affect China’s national security. The amended Measures of Cybersecurity Review took effect on February 15, 2022. In August 2021, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of China promulgated the Personal Information Protection Law which became effective on November 1, 2021. The Personal Information Protection Law provides a comprehensive set of data privacy and protection requirements that apply to the processing of personal information and expands data protection compliance obligations to cover the processing of personal information of persons by organizations and individuals in China, and the processing of personal information of persons outside of China if such processing is for purposes of providing products and services to, or analyzing and evaluating the behavior of, persons in China. The Personal Information Protection Law also provides that critical information infrastructure operators and personal information processing entities who process personal information meeting a volume threshold to be set by Chinese cyberspace regulators are also required to store in China the personal information generated or collected in China, and to pass a security assessment administered by Chinese cyberspace regulators for any export of such personal information. Moreover, pursuant to the Personal Information Protection Law, persons who seriously violate this law may be fined for up to RMB50 million or 5% of annual revenues generated in the prior year and may also be ordered to suspend any related activity by competent authorities.

 

1

 

 

In November 2021, the CAC released the Regulations on Network Data Security (draft for public comments) and accepted public comments until December 13, 2021. The draft Regulations on Network Data Security provide more detailed guidance on how to implement the general legal requirements under laws such as the Cybersecurity Law, Data Security Law and the Personal Information Protection Law. The draft Regulations on Network Data Security follow the principle that the state will regulate based on a data classification and multi-level protection scheme, under which data is largely classified into three categories: general data, important data and core data. Under the current PRC cybersecurity laws in China, critical information infrastructure operators that intend to purchase internet products and services that may affect national security must be subject to the cybersecurity review. On July 30, 2021, the State Council of the PRC promulgated the Regulations on the Protection of the Security of Critical Information Infrastructure, which took effect on September 1, 2021. The regulations require, among others, that certain competent authorities shall identify critical information infrastructures. If any critical information infrastructure is identified, they shall promptly notify the relevant operators and the Ministry of Public Security.

 

Currently, the cybersecurity laws and regulations have not directly affected our business and operations, but in anticipation of the strengthened implementation of cybersecurity laws and regulations and the expansion of our business, we face potential risks if we are deemed as a critical information infrastructure operator under the Cybersecurity Law. In such case, we must fulfill certain obligations as required under the Cybersecurity Law and other applicable laws, including, among others, storing personal information and important data collected and produced within the PRC territory during our operations in China, which we are already doing in our business, and we may be subject to review when purchasing internet products and services. Under the amended Measures of Cybersecurity Review, which took effect in February 2022, we may be subject to review when conducting data processing activities, and may face challenges in addressing its requirements and make necessary changes to our internal policies and practices in data processing. As of the date of this annual report, we have not been involved in any investigations on cybersecurity review made by the CAC on such basis, and we have not received any inquiry, notice, warning, or sanctions in such respect. Based on the foregoing, we and our PRC legal counsel, JunHe LLP, do not expect that, as of the date of this annual report, the current applicable PRC laws on cybersecurity would have a material adverse impact on our business.

 

On September 1, 2021, the PRC Data Security Law became effective, which imposes data security and privacy obligations on entities and individuals conducting data-related activities, and introduces a data classification and hierarchical protection system based on the importance of data in economic and social development, as well as the degree of harm it will cause to national security, public interests, or legitimate rights and interests of individuals or organizations when such data is tampered with, destroyed, leaked, or illegally acquired or used. As of the date of this annual report, we have not been involved in any investigations on data security compliance made in connection with the PRC Data Security Law, and we have not received any inquiry, notice, warning, or sanctions in such respect. Based on the foregoing, we do not expect that, as of the date of this annual report, the PRC Data Security Law would have a material adverse impact on our business.

 

On July 6, 2021, the relevant PRC governmental authorities publicated the Opinions on Strictly Cracking Down Illegal Securities Activities in Accordance with the Law. These opinions require the relevant regulators to coordinate and accelerate amendments of legislation on the confidentiality and archive management related to overseas issuance and listing of securities, and to improve the legislation on data security, cross-border data flow and management of confidential information. These opinions emphasized the need to strengthen the administration over illegal securities activities and the supervision on overseas listings by China-based companies and proposed to take effective measures, such as promoting the construction of relevant regulatory systems to deal with the risks and incidents faced by China-based overseas-listed companies. Effective measures, such as promoting the construction of relevant regulatory systems, are to be taken by relevant regulatory authorities to deal with the risks and incidents of China-based overseas-listed companies, cybersecurity and data privacy protection requirements and similar matters. As of the date of this annual report, we have not received any inquiry, notice, warning, or sanctions from the CSRC or any other PRC government authorities. Based on the foregoing and the currently effective PRC laws, we and our PRC legal counsel, JunHe LLP, are of the view that, as of the date of this annual report, these opinions do not have a material adverse impact on our business.

 

2

 

 

On February 17, 2023, the CSRC released a set of regulations consisting of six documents, including the Trial Administrative Measures of Overseas Securities Offering and Listing by Domestic Companies and five supporting guidelines, collectively, the Overseas Listing Filing Rules, which came into effective on March 31, 2023. According to the Overseas Listing Filing Rules, China-based companies that have already offered shares or been listed overseas prior to the implementation of such new regulations qualify as “Stock Enterprises”, and Stock Enterprises are not required to apply for the filing immediately until a subsequent overseas offering or listing occurs. However, the Overseas Listing Filing Rules, among others, require the issuer or its main operational entity in the PRC to file with the CSRC for its follow-on securities offerings in the same offshore market within three business days after the completion of such offerings, and file with the CSRC for its offerings or listing in offshore stock market other than the stock market of its initial public offering or listing within three business days after the submission of offering application outside mainland China.

 

On February 24, 2023, the CSRC, the Ministry of Finance, the National Administration of State Secrets Protection and the National Archives Administration jointly issued the Provisions on Strengthening Confidentiality and Archives Administration of Overseas Securities Offering and Listing by Domestic Companies, or the Confidentiality and Archives Provisions, which will take effective from March 31,2023. The Confidentiality and Archives Provisions specify that during the overseas issuance of securities and listing activities of domestic enterprises, domestic enterprises and securities companies and securities service institutions that provide relevant securities services shall, by strictly abiding by the relevant laws and regulations of the PRC and the requirements therein, establish sound confidentiality and archives management systems, take necessary measures to implement confidentiality and archives management responsibilities, and shall not leak national secrets, work secrets of governmental agencies and undermine national and public interests. Work manuscripts generated in the PRC by securities companies and securities service institutions that provide relevant securities services for overseas issuance and listing of securities by domestic enterprises shall be kept in the PRC. Without the approval of relevant competent authorities, it shall not be transferred overseas. Where archives or copies need to be transferred outside of the PRC, it shall be subject to the approval procedures in accordance with relevant PRC regulations.

 

Further, the CAC issued the Measures for the Security Assessment of Outbound Data Transfer (the “Measures”) on July 7, 2022, which took effect on September 1, 2022. The Measures shall apply to the security assessment of data processors’ provision of important data and personal information collected and generated in their operations within the territory of the PRC to overseas recipients. The Measures require relevant data processors to submit a data security assessment to the CAC for review prior to the outbound data transfer activities in order to prevent illegal data transfer activities.

 

As there are still uncertainties regarding these new laws and regulations as well as the amendment, interpretation and implementation of the existing laws and regulations related to cybersecurity and data protection, We cannot assure you that we will be able to comply with these laws and regulations in all respects. The regulatory authorities may deem our activities or services non-compliant and therefore require us to suspend or terminate its business. We may also be subject to fines, legal or administrative sanctions and other adverse consequences, and may not be able to become in compliance with relevant laws and regulations in a timely manner, or at all. These may materially and adversely affect its business, financial condition, results of operations and reputation.

 

3

 

 

Since these statements and regulatory actions are new, it is highly uncertain how soon legislative or administrative regulation making bodies will respond and what existing or new laws or regulations or detailed implementations and interpretations will be modified or promulgated, if any, and the potential impact such modified or new laws and regulations will have on our daily business operation, our ability to accept foreign investments and conduct follow-on offerings, and listing or continuing listing on a U.S. or other foreign exchanges. In addition, the PRC government has published new policies that significantly affected certain industries such as the education and internet industries, and we cannot rule out the possibility that it will in the future release regulations or policies regarding any other industry including the industry in which we operate, which could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. See “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors—Risk Factors—Risks Related to Doing Business in China” for more details.

 

Risks Associated with being a Holding Company and the VIE Structure

 

During the reporting period, we did not conduct any business operation through a variable interest entity.

 

On November 22, 2023, we entered into an equity acquisition agreement with Alpha Mind, an insurance agency and insurance technology business in the PRC, and Alpha Mind’s then shareholders to acquire all of the issued and outstanding shares in Alpha Mind. The Acquisition was consummated on December 28, 2023. Alpha Mind conducts its insurance agency and insurance technology businesses in the PRC through the Current WFOE and its consolidated variable interest entities. In April 2022, Alpha Mind, through the Current WFOE, entered into contractual arrangement with each of the Current VIEs, respectively. The contractual arrangements enable Alpha Mind to obtain control over the Current VIEs. As a result, we conduct our business operation through Current VIEs as of the date of this annual report.

 

We, the PRC subsidiaries and the Current VIEs face material risks relating to our corporate structure. We are not a Chinese operating company but a Cayman Islands holding company with operations conducted by our subsidiaries and through contractual arrangements with the Current VIEs based in China, and this structure involves unique risks to investors. The Current VIEs structure provides investors with exposure to foreign investment in China-based companies where Chinese law prohibits or restricts direct foreign investment in the operating companies, and investors may never hold equity interests in the Chinese operating companies. The PRC government regulates telecommunications-related businesses through strict business licensing requirements and other government regulations. If the PRC government deems that our contractual arrangements with the Current VIEs do not comply with PRC regulatory restrictions on foreign investment in the relevant industries, or if these regulations or the interpretation of existing regulations change in the future, we could be subject to severe penalties or be forced to relinquish our interests in those operations. Our holding company in the Cayman Islands, the Current VIEs, and investors of our company face uncertainty about potential future actions by the PRC government that could affect the validity and enforceability of the contractual arrangements with the Current VIEs and, consequently, significantly affect the financial performance of the Current VIEs and our company as a group. There is a possibility that Chinese regulatory authorities could disallow this structure, which would likely result in a material change in our operations and/or a material change in the value of the securities we are registering for sale, and this could cause the value of such securities to significantly decline or become worthless. See “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors—Risks Related to Our Corporate Structure —If the PRC government determines that the contractual arrangements in relation to the VIE structure do not comply with PRC regulatory restrictions on foreign investment in certain industries, or if these regulations or the way they are interpreted change, we, the PRC subsidiaries could be subject to severe penalties or be forced to relinquish their interests in those operations.” for more details.

 

Risks Associated with the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act

 

Pursuant to the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act (the “HFCA Act”), if the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (the “PCAOB”), is unable to inspect an issuer’s auditors for two consecutive years, the issuer’s securities are prohibited to trade on a U.S. stock exchange. The PCAOB issued a Determination Report on December 16, 2021 (the “Determination Report”) which found that the PCAOB is unable to inspect or investigate completely registered public accounting firms headquartered in: (1) mainland China of the People’s Republic of China because of a position taken by one or more authorities in mainland China; and (2) Hong Kong, a Special Administrative Region and dependency of the PRC, because of a position taken by one or more authorities in Hong Kong. Furthermore, the Determination Report identified the specific registered public accounting firms which are subject to these determinations (“PCAOB Identified Firms”).

 

4

 

 

The Company’s current auditor, OneStop Assurance PAC Singapore (“OneStop”), the independent registered public accounting firm that issues the audit report included elsewhere in this annual report, as an auditor of companies that are traded publicly in the United States and a firm registered with the PCAOB, is subject to laws in the U.S. pursuant to which the PCAOB conducts regular inspections to assess its compliance with the applicable professional standards. OneStop, whose audit report is included in this annual report, is headquartered in Singapore, and, as of the date of this annual report, was not included in the list of PCAOB Identified Firms in the Determination Report.

 

On August 26, 2022, the PCAOB announced that it had signed a Statement of Protocol (the “Protocol”) with the CSRC and the Ministry of Finance (“MOF”) of the People’s Republic of China, governing inspections and investigations of audit firms based in mainland China and Hong Kong. Pursuant to the Protocol, the PCAOB conducted inspections on select registered public accounting firms subject to the Determination Report in Hong Kong between September and November 2022.

 

On December 15, 2022, the PCAOB board announced that it has completed the inspections, determined that it had complete access to inspect or investigate completely registered public accounting firms headquartered in mainland China and Hong Kong, and voted to vacate the Determination Report.

 

Notwithstanding the foregoing, the Company’s ability to retain an auditor subject to the PCAOB inspection and investigation, including but not limited to inspection of the audit working papers related to us, may depend on the relevant positions of U.S. and Chinese regulators. OneStop’s audit working papers related to us are located in China. With respect to audits of companies with operations in China, such as the Company, there are uncertainties about the ability of its auditor to fully cooperate with a request by the PCAOB for audit working papers in China without the approval of Chinese authorities. If the PCAOB is unable to inspect or investigate completely the Company’s auditor because of a position taken by an authority in a foreign jurisdiction, or the PCAOB re-evaluates its determination as a result of any obstruction with the implementation of the Statement of Protocol, then such lack of inspection or re-evaluation could cause trading in the Company’s securities to be prohibited under the HFCA Act, and ultimately result in a determination by a securities exchange to delist the Company’s securities. Accordingly, the HFCA Act calls for additional and more stringent criteria to be applied to emerging market companies upon assessing the qualification of their auditors, especially the non-U.S. auditors who are not inspected by the PCAOB. These developments could add uncertainties to our offering.

 

If our ADSs are subject to a trading prohibition under the HFCA Act, the price of our ADSs may be adversely affected, and the threat of such a trading prohibition would also adversely affect their price. If we are unable to be listed on another securities exchange that provides sufficient liquidity, such a trading prohibition may substantially impair your ability to sell or purchase our ADSs when you wish to do so. Furthermore, if we are able to maintain a listing of our ordinary shares on a non-U.S. exchange, investors owning our ADSs may have to take additional steps to engage in transactions on that exchange, including converting ADSs into ordinary shares and establishing non-U.S. brokerage accounts.

 

The HFCA Act also imposes additional certification and disclosure requirements for Commission Identified Issuers, and these requirements apply to issuers in the year following their listing as Commission Identified Issuers. The additional requirements include a certification that the issuer is not owned or controlled by a governmental entity in the Relevant Jurisdiction, and the additional requirements for annual reports include disclosure that the issuer’s financials were audited by a firm not subject to PCAOB inspection, disclosure on governmental entities in the Relevant Jurisdiction’s ownership in and controlling financial interest in the issuer, the names of Chinese Communist Party, or CCP, members on the board of the issuer or its operating entities, and whether the issuer’s articles include a charter of the CCP, including the text of such charter.

 

5

 

 

ITEM 1. IDENTITY OF DIRECTORS, SENIOR MANAGEMENT AND ADVISERS

 

Not applicable.

 

ITEM 2. OFFER STATISTICS AND EXPECTED TIMETABLE

 

Not applicable.

 

ITEM 3. KEY INFORMATION

 

For risks associated with being based in or having the majority of the operations in China, see “—Risks Associated with Being Based in or Having the Majority of the Operations in China” as set forth at the outset of Part I.

 

Our Dual Class Share Structure

 

We have a dual class share structure. As of the date of this annual report, our ordinary shares consist of 2,587,892,046,400 Class A ordinary shares and 250,000,000,000 Class B ordinary shares. In respect of matters requiring the votes of shareholders, holders of Class A ordinary shares are entitled to one vote per share, while holders of Class B ordinary shares are entitled to ten votes per share based on our dual class share structure.

 

Golden Stream Ltd., a company controlled by Mr. Chengcai Qu, the Chief Executive Officer of the Group, beneficially owns all of our issued Class B ordinary shares, representing 8.8% of the total outstanding share capital and 49.1% of the voting power of the Company as of the date of this annual report, due to the disparate voting powers associated with our dual-class structure. The Class B ordinary shares held by Golden Stream Ltd. represent the maximum number of shares underlying the Company’s new share incentive plan (the “2022 Plan). Golden Stream Ltd. and its controlling shareholder Mr. Chengcai Qu have agreed to act upon the instructions from a senior management committee of the Company, consisting of Chengcai Qu, Zhichen (Frank) Sun and Jiamin Chen determined on a unanimous basis in relation to the voting and, prior to the vesting of the shares to the relevant grantee of the share-based awards under the 2022 Plan, the disposition of these Class B ordinary shares. As a result of the dual class share structure and the concentration of ownership, Golden Stream Ltd. and the senior management committee have considerable influence over matters such as decisions regarding change of directors, mergers, change of control transactions and other significant corporate actions.

 

For details of the risks related to our dual class share structure, please see “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors—Risks Related to the ADSs—Our dual class share structure with different voting rights limits your ability to influence corporate matters and could discourage others from pursuing any change of control transactions that holders of our Class A ordinary shares and the ADSs may view as beneficial. ”

 

Our Holding Company Structure and Contractual Arrangement with the Current VIEs and Their Shareholders

 

FLJ Group Limited is not an operating company but a Cayman Islands holding company. Our operations are primarily conducted through our PRC subsidiaries and other consolidated entities. Investors in our ADSs thus are purchasing equity interest in a Cayman Islands holding company and not in an operating entity. As a holding company, FLJ Group Limited may rely on dividends from its subsidiaries for cash requirements, including any payment of dividends to our shareholders. The ability of our subsidiaries to pay dividends to FLJ Group Limited may be restricted by laws and regulations applicable to them or the debt they incur on their own behalf or the instruments governing their debt.

 

After the consummation of the Acquisition, FLJ Group Limited conducts insurance agency businesses in the PRC through Alpha Mind and its indirectly wholly-owned subsidiary, the Current WFOE and the Current VIEs. In April 2022, Alpha Mind, through the Current WFOE, entered into contractual arrangements with Current VIEs, respectively. The contractual arrangements enable Alpha Mind to obtain control over the Current VIEs. The contractual arrangements consist of powers of attorney, exclusive business cooperation agreements, exclusive option agreements, equity pledge agreements and spousal consent letters. Terms contained in each set of contractual arrangements with each of the Current VIEs and its respective shareholders are substantially similar. In particular, (i) equity pledge agreements, entered into between the Current WFOE and each of the Current VIEs and its shareholders, where each shareholder of the Current VIEs pledged his or her equity interest to the Current WFOE to ensure performance of their obligations under other relevant contractual arrangements, and in case of breach, the Current WFOE has the right to dispose of the pledged equity. Current VIEs’ shareholders are prohibited from disposing of the pledged equity or taking actions that could negatively impact the pledgee’s rights without the Current WFOE’s written consent until all obligations are discharged; (ii) power of attorney, entered into between the Current WFOE and the Current VIEs and their shareholders, where each shareholder of the Current VIEs authorizes Current WFOE’s designated individuals to act as his or her exclusive agents, exercising all associated rights regarding their equity interest in the Current VIEs, and the power of attorney remains valid as long as the shareholder holds shares in the Current VIEs; (iii) exclusive business cooperation agreement, entered into between the Current WFOE and each of the Current VIEs, granting the Current WFOE the exclusive right to provide services to the Current VIEs in exchange for a service fee equal to 100% of the consolidated net income, and also including the exclusive right for the Current WFOE to purchase the Current VIEs’ business or assets at the lowest permissible price under PRC law, with the agreement remaining in effect unless otherwise specified by the parties; (iv) exclusive option agreements, entered into between the Current WFOE and the each of the Current VIEs and its shareholders, granting the exclusive right to purchase the equity interests of the Current VIEs’ shareholders, while the Current WFOE is entitled to dividends and distributions, and the exclusive option agreements remain in effect until the transfer of all equity interests to the Current WFOE or its designated party; and (v) spousal consent letters, signed by each spouse of the relevant individual shareholders of the Current VIEs, stating that the disposition of the equity interest held by their spouse will be governed by the above-mentioned agreements, and their spouse undertake not to make any assertions to such equity interest. As a result of these contractual arrangements, we, through Alpha Mind and its subsidiaries (i) are able to exercise effective control over the Current VIEs, and (ii) receive substantially all of the economic benefits from the Current VIEs. See “Item 4. Information on the Company — C. Organizational Structure — Contractual Arrangements with the Current VIEs and Their Shareholders” for details.

 

6

 

 

However, neither FLJ Group Limited nor the Current WFOE owns any equity interests in the Current VIEs. Our contractual arrangements with the Current VIEs and their nominee shareholders are not equivalent of an investment in the equity interest of the Current VIEs. Instead, as described above, we are regarded as the primary beneficiary of the Current VIEs and consolidate the financial results of the Current VIEs under U.S. GAAP in light of the VIE structure.

 

The VIE structure involves unique risks to investors in the ADSs. It may be less effective than direct ownership in providing us with operational control over the Current VIEs and we may incur substantial costs to enforce the terms of the arrangements. For instance, the Current VIEs and their shareholders could breach their contractual arrangements with us by, among other things, failing to conduct the operations of the Current VIEs in an acceptable manner or taking other actions that are detrimental to our interests. If we had direct ownership of the Current VIEs in China, we would be able to exercise our rights as a shareholder to effect changes in the board of directors of the Current VIEs, which in turn could implement changes, subject to any applicable fiduciary obligations, at the management and operational level. However, under the current contractual arrangements, we rely on the performance by the Current VIEs and their shareholders of their obligations under the contracts to direct the Current VIEs’ activities. The shareholders of the Current VIEs may not act in the best interests of our company or may not perform their obligations under these contracts. If any dispute relating to these contracts remains unresolved, we will have to enforce our rights under these contracts through the operations of PRC law and arbitration, litigation and other legal proceedings and therefore will be subject to uncertainties in the PRC legal system.

 

We may face challenges in enforcing the contractual arrangements due to jurisdictional and legal limitations. There are substantial uncertainties regarding the interpretation and application of current and future PRC laws, regulations and rules regarding the status of the rights of our Cayman Islands holding company with respect to its contractual arrangements with the Current VIEs and their nominee shareholders through our Current WFOE. As of the date of this annual report, the agreements under the contractual arrangements among our Current WFOE, the Current VIEs and their nominee shareholders have not been tested in a court of law. It is uncertain whether any new PRC laws or regulations relating to Current VIE structure will be adopted or, if adopted, what they would provide. If we or the Current VIEs are found to be in violation of any existing or future PRC laws or regulations or fail to obtain or maintain any of the required licenses, permits, registrations or approvals, the relevant PRC regulatory authorities would have broad discretion to take action in dealing with such violations or failures. The PRC regulatory authorities could disallow the Current VIE structure at any time in the future. If the PRC government deems that our contractual arrangements with the Current VIEs do not comply with PRC regulatory restrictions on foreign investment in the relevant industries, or if these regulations or the interpretation of existing regulations change or are interpreted differently in the future, we could be subject to severe penalties and may incur substantial costs to enforce the terms of the arrangements, or be forced to relinquish our interests in those operations. Our Cayman Islands holding company, our subsidiaries, the Current VIEs, and investors in our securities (including the ADS) face uncertainty with respect to potential future actions by the PRC government that could affect the enforceability of the contractual arrangements with the Current VIEs and, consequently, significantly affect the financial performance of our company and the Current VIEs as a whole. For details, see “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors — Risks Related to Our Corporate Structure.”

 

The following diagram illustrates our corporate structure, including our principal subsidiaries immediately upon the closing of the Acquisition.

 

 

-------►VIE contractual arrangement

 

7

 

 

Permissions Required from the PRC Authorities

 

We conduct our business in China through our subsidiaries and the Current VIEs. We are required to obtain certain permissions from the PRC authorities to operate, issue securities to foreign investors, and transfer certain data. The PRC government has exercised, and may continue to exercise, substantial influence or control over virtually every sector of the Chinese economy through regulation and state ownership. Our ability to operate in China may be undermined if our subsidiaries or the Current VIEs are not able to obtain or maintain approvals to operate in China. The central or local governments could impose new, stricter regulations or interpretations of existing regulations that could require additional expenditures, and efforts on our part to ensure our compliance with such regulations or interpretations. To operate our general business activities currently conducted in mainland China, each of the Current VIEs is required to obtain a business license from the local counterpart of the State Administration for Market Regulation, or SAMR. Each of the Current VIEs has obtained a valid business license from the local SAMR, and no application for any such license has been denied. In addition, the Current VIEs are also required to obtain insurance agency operating licenses pursuant to the PRC laws. As of the date of this annual report, as advised by our PRC legal counsel, JunHe LLP, we and the Current VIEs have received all requisite permits, approvals and certificates from the PRC government authorities to conduct our business operations in China. To our knowledge, no permission or approval has been denied or revoked. However, given the uncertainties of interpretation and implementation of relevant laws and regulations and the enforcement practice by government authorities, we cannot be certain that relevant policies in this regard will not change in the future, which may require us or our subsidiaries or Current VIEs to obtain additional licenses, permits, filings or approvals for conducting our business in the PRC. If we or our subsidiaries or Current VIEs do not receive or maintain required permissions or approvals, or inadvertently conclude that such permissions or approvals are not required, we may be subject to governmental investigations or enforcement actions, fines, penalties, suspension of operations, or be prohibited from engaging in relevant business or conducting securities offering, and these risks could result in a material adverse change in our operations, significantly limit or completely hinder our ability to offer or continue to offer securities to investors, or cause such securities to significantly decline in value or become worthless.

 

On December 28, 2021, CAC released the revised Cybersecurity Review Measures (the “Revised CAC Measures”) and became effective on February 15, 2022, which iterates that any “online platform operators” controlling personal information of more than one million users which seeks to list on a foreign stock exchange should also be subject to cybersecurity review. The Measures for Cybersecurity Review (2021 version) further elaborates the factors to be considered when assessing the national security risks of the relevant activities, including, among others, (i) the risk of core data, important data or a large amount of personal information being stolen, leaked, destroyed, and illegally used or exited the country; and (ii) the risk of critical information infrastructure, core data, important data or a large amount of personal information being affected, controlled, or maliciously used by foreign governments after listing abroad. Our PRC legal counsel, JunHe LLP, is of the view as because: (i) we are already listed on the Nasdaq Global Market and do not “seek to list on any other foreign stock exchange”; (ii) we and the Current VIEs do not hold personal information on more than one million users; and (iii) data processed in our business does not have a bearing on national security and thus may not be classified as core or important data by the authorities, we are not required to apply for a cybersecurity review under the Revised CAC Measures.

 

On February 17, 2023, the CSRC issued the Trial Measures for the Administration of Overseas Issuance and Listing of Securities by Domestic Enterprises and five supporting guidelines, which became effective on March 31, 2023 (the “Overseas Listing Regulations”). The Overseas Listing Regulations are applicable to overseas securities offerings and/or listings conducted by issuers who are (i) companies incorporated in the PRC and (ii) companies incorporated overseas with substantial operations in the PRC. The Overseas Listing Regulations stipulate that such issuer shall fulfill the filing procedures within three working days after it makes an application for initial public offering and listing in an overseas stock market. Among other things, if an overseas listed issuer intends to effect any follow-on offering in an overseas stock market, it should, through its major operating entity incorporated in the PRC, submit filing materials to the CSRC within three working days after the completion of the offering. The required filing materials shall include, but not be limited to, (1) filing report and relevant commitment letter and (2) domestic legal opinions. Any failure of us to fully comply with new regulatory requirements may significantly limit or completely hinder our ability to offer or continue to offer our securities, cause significant disruption to our business operations, and severely damage our reputation, which would materially and adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations and cause our securities to significantly decline in value or become worthless.

 

As advised by our PRC legal counsel, JunHe LLP, we and the Current VIEs, (i) are not required to make the filing with the CSRC in connection with the Acquisition since the Acquisition does not involve any issuance or listing of shares or other equity-based securities of the Company on a stock exchange, which would trigger the filing requirement with the CSRC, (ii) are not required to go through cybersecurity review by the CAC since (a) we are already listed on the Nasdaq Global Market and do not seek to list on any other foreign stock exchange; (b) we and the Current VIEs do not hold personal information of more than one million users; and (c) data processed in our business does not have a bearing on national security and thus may not be classified as core or important data by the authorities, and (iii) have not received or were denied such requisite permissions by any PRC authority in connection with the Acquisition.

 

8

 

 

Uncertainties exist as to the interpretation of these laws, regulations and policies and due to the possibility that laws, regulations, or policies in the PRC could change in the future. Any action by the PRC government expanding the categories of industries and companies whose foreign securities offerings are subject to review by the CSRC or the CAC or different or changing interpretation of these laws or regulations could significantly limit or completely hinder our ability to engage in capital markets transactions offer or continue to offer securities to investors and could cause the value of such securities to significantly decline or be worthless. For more detailed information, see “Item 3. Key Information-D. Risk Factors-Risks Relating to Doing Business in China.”

 

For the risks related to the HFCA Act, see “—Risks Associated with the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act” as set forth at the outset of Part I and “—Risk Factors—Risks Related to Doing Business in China—If the U.S. Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, or the PCAOB, is unable to inspect our auditors as required under the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act, the SEC will prohibit the trading of our ADSs. A trading prohibition for our ADSs, or the threat of a trading prohibition, may materially and adversely affect the value of your investment. Additionally, the inability of the PCAOB to conduct inspections of our auditors would deprive our investors of the benefits of such inspections.”

 

A[Reserved]

 

BCapitalization and Indebtedness

 

Not applicable.

 

CReasons for the Offer and Use of Proceeds

 

Not applicable.

 

DRisk Factors

 

Our business, financial condition and results of operations are subject to various changing business, competitive, economic, political and social conditions. In addition to the factors discussed elsewhere in this annual report, the following are some of the important factors that could adversely affect our operating results, financial condition and business prospects, and cause our actual results to differ materially from those projected in any forward-looking statements.

 

For risk factors related to the business and industry of the Disposed Business, please refer to “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors—Risks Related to Our Business and Industry” in our annual report on the Form 20-F for FY 2022 (File No. 001-39111) filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on January 23, 2023.

 

Summary of Risk Factors

 

An investment in our ADSs involves significant risks. Below is a summary of material risks that we face, organized under relevant headings. These risks are discussed more fully in “Item 3. Key InformationD. Risk Factors.”

 

Risks Related to Our Business and Industry

 

If we are unable to repay or refinance the Notes, we will lose control and will no longer be able to consolidate the results of operation of Alpha Mind. In addition, our level of indebtedness could adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.

 

The report of our independent registered public accounting firm on our consolidated financial statements includes an explanatory paragraph questioning our ability to continue as a going concern. We recorded net losses in the past and may not be able to continue as a going concern or achieve or maintain profitability in the future.

 

  We have a limited operating history in the insurance agency market, which makes it difficult to evaluate our future prospects and results of operations and may increase the risk that we will not be successful. In addition, our historical growth and financial condition may not be indicative of our future growth, profitability, and financial condition.

 

If we fail to maintain stable relationships with our business partners, our business, results of operations, financial condition and business prospects could be materially and adversely affected.

 

Because the commission revenue we earn on the sale of insurance products is based on premium and commission rates set by insurance companies, any decrease in these premiums or commission rates, or increase in the referral fees we pay to our external referral sources, may have an adverse effect on our results of operation.

 

9

 

 

Risks Related to Our Corporate Structure

 

 

We are not a Chinese operating company but a Cayman Islands holding company with operations conducted by our subsidiaries and through contractual arrangements with the Current VIEs based in China, and this structure involves unique risks to investors. Having the majority of our operations in China, we are subject to legal and operational risks associated with doing business in China, which could result in a material change in our operating entities and the Current VIEs’ operations. PRC laws and regulations governing our current business operations are sometimes vague and uncertain and can change with little advance notice. The PRC government has significant authority in regulating our operations and may intervene or influence our operations at any time. Moreover, its oversight and control over offerings conducted overseas by, and foreign investment in, China-based issuers could significantly limit or completely hinder our ability to offer or continue to offer securities to investors and cause the value of our securities to significantly decline or be worthless.

 

For detail discussion of these risks, please see “Part I – Risks Associated with Being Based in or Having the Majority of the Operations in China” and “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors—Risks Related to Doing Business in China.”

     
  If the PRC government determines that the contractual arrangements in relation to the VIE structure do not comply with PRC regulatory restrictions on foreign investment in certain industries, or if these regulations or the way they are interpreted change, we, the PRC subsidiaries could be subject to severe penalties or be forced to relinquish their interests in those operations.

 

We and the PRC subsidiaries rely on contractual arrangements with the Current VIEs and the Current VIEs’ shareholders to operate their business, which may not be as effective as direct ownership in providing operational control.

 

Any failure by the Current VIEs or its shareholders to perform their obligations under their contractual arrangements with Current WFOE would materially adversely affect the business, results of operations and financial condition of us and the PRC subsidiaries.

 

The Current VIEs’ shareholders may have potential conflicts of interest with us, the PRC subsidiaries, which may materially adversely affect our business and financial condition.

 

Substantial uncertainties with respect to the implementation of the Foreign Investment Law may significantly impact the corporate structure and operations of us, the PRC subsidiaries.

 

Risks Related to Doing Business in China

 

Changes in China’s economic, political or social conditions or government policies could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, financial condition, and the value of our securities.

 

The approval of and/or filing with the CSRC or other PRC government authorities may be required in connection with our offshore offerings under PRC law, and, if required, we cannot predict whether or for how long we will be able to obtain such approval or complete such filing.

 

Adverse changes in economic and political policies of the PRC government could negatively impact China’s overall economic growth, which could materially adversely affect our business.

 

Uncertainties in the interpretation and enforcement of PRC laws, rules and regulations could materially adversely affect our business.

 

PRC regulations relating to investments in offshore companies by PRC residents may subject PRC-resident beneficial owners or the PRC subsidiaries to liability or penalties, limit our ability to inject capital into the PRC subsidiaries or limit the PRC subsidiaries’ ability to increase their registered capital or distribute profits to us, or may otherwise adversely affect our business and financial condition.

 

Risks Related to the ADSs

 

The market price for the ADSs is volatile.

 

If we fail to meet the applicable listing requirements, NASDAQ may delist our ADSs from trading on its exchange in which case the liquidity and market price of our ADSs could decline and our ability to raise additional capital would be adversely affected.

 

An active market for the ADSs may not be maintained.

 

If securities or industry analysts do not publish research or publish inaccurate or unfavorable research about our business, the market price for the ADSs and trading volume could decline.

 

Because we do not expect to pay dividends in the foreseeable future, you must rely on price appreciation of the ADSs for return on your investment.

 

10

 

 

Risks Related to Our Business and Industry

 

If we are unable to repay or refinance the Notes, we will lose control and will no longer be able to consolidate the results of operation of Alpha Mind. In addition, our level of indebtedness could adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.

 

In connection with the Acquisition, we issued the Notes in an aggregate amount equal to the purchase price to the selling shareholders of Alpha Mind. The Notes have a maturity of 90 days from the closing date, which was subsequently extended to June 30, 2024, an interest rate at an annual rate to 3% per annum and are secured by all of the issued and outstanding equity of Alpha Mind and all of the assets of Alpha Mind and its subsidiaries.

 

We intend to pay the promissory notes by either using the cash flow generated by our operation or through debt or equity offerings or loans. However we may not be able to obtain financing or fund raising on favorable terms or at all. If we failed to obtain such financing and were unable to perform our payment obligations under the terms of the Notes before the maturity date, the selling shareholders of Alpha Mind may exercise their collateral rights. We will lose control of and no longer be able to consolidate Alpha Mind and our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects will be adversely affected.

 

This significant indebtedness in connection with the Notes or financing of the Notes could have important consequences for our business and operations including, but not limited to:

 

limiting or impairing our ability to obtain financing, refinance any of our indebtedness, obtain equity or debt financing on commercially reasonable terms or at all, which could cause us to default on our obligations and materially impair our liquidity;

 

restricting or impeding our ability to access capital markets at attractive rates and increasing the cost of future borrowings;

 

requiring us to dedicate a substantial portion of our cash flow from operations to fulfill payment obligation under the Notes, thereby reducing the availability of our cash flow for other purposes;

 

placing us at a competitive disadvantage compared to our competitors that have lower leverage or better access to capital resources; or

 

increasing our vulnerability to downturns in general economic, or industry conditions, or in our business.

 

The report of our independent registered public accounting firm on our consolidated financial statements includes an explanatory paragraph questioning our ability to continue as a going concern. We recorded net losses in the past and may not be able to continue as a going concern or achieve or maintain profitability in the future.

 

We incurred a net loss of RMB569.2 million in FY 2021, generated a net income of RMB820.0 million in FY 2022, and a net loss of RMB71.3 million (US$9.8 million) in FY 2023. As of September 30, 2023, we had an accumulated deficit of RMB3,630.0 million (US$497.5 million). Our net cash used in operating activities from continuing operations were RMB 161.4 million, RMB 7.1 million and RMB 24.3 million for FY 2021, FY 2022 and FY 2023, respectively. As of September 30, 2022 and 2023, our current liabilities exceeded current assets by RMB 597.2 million and RMB 643.4 million, respectively. We disposed of our long-term rental apartment rental business in October 2023 and we had no revenues from Continuing Operations for the years ended September 30, 2021, 2022 and 2023, respectively.

 

On December 28, 2023, we completed the acquisition of 100% equity interest in Alpha Mind for a consideration of US$180,000,000. The purchase price is payable in the form of the Notes. The Notes have a maturity of 90 days from the closing date, which was subsequently extended to June 30, 2024, an interest rate at an annual rate to 3% per annum and will be secured by all of the issued and outstanding equity of the Alpha Mind and all of the assets of the Alpha Mind, including its consolidated entities. We intend to pay the promissory notes by either using the cash flow generated by our operation or through debt or equity offerings or loans. However we may not be able to obtain financing or fund raising on favorable terms or at all. If we failed to obtain such financing and were unable to perform our payment obligations under the terms of the Notes before the maturity date, the selling shareholders of Alpha Mind may exercise their collateral rights. We will lose control of and no longer be able to consolidate Alpha Mind and our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects will be adversely affected. See “—Risks Relating to Our Business and Industry—If we are unable to repay or refinance the Notes, we will lose control and will no longer be able to consolidate the results of operation of Alpha Mind. In addition, our level of indebtedness could adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.”

 

These factors raise substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern. We intend to overcome the circumstances that impact our ability to remain a going concern through a combination of new sources of revenues and additional financing. However, the implementation of these initiatives depends on many factors, including the scale and pace of the expansion of our insurance agency network, efficiency in our services and SaaS platform, the expansion of our sales and marketing activities, and potential investments in, or acquisitions of, businesses or technologies. Inability to access financing on favorable terms in a timely manner or at all would materially and adversely affect our business, results of operations, financial condition, and growth prospects. Furthermore, our inability to obtain adequate financing may cause a significant decline in the value of our securities, and such securities may become worthless, resulting in a total loss of investment for holders of our securities.

 

11

 

 

The report of our independent registered public accounting firm on our consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this annual report includes an explanatory paragraph questioning our ability to continue as a going concern. Our financial statements do not include any adjustments that might be necessary if we are unable to continue as a going concern. If we are unable to continue as a going concern or achieve or maintain profitability, we may have to liquidate our assets, and the value we receive for our assets in liquidation or dissolution could be significantly lower than the values reflected in our audited consolidated financial statements. If we cease operations, it is likely that all of our investors would lose their investment. Our inability to continue as a going concern may materially and adversely affect the price of our ADSs and our ability to raise new capital or to continue our operations.

 

In addition, we will need to generate increased revenue levels in future periods to become profitable, and, even if we do, we may not be able to maintain or improve profitability as we intend to continue to spend significant funds to expand our operations, including expanding our sales network, and developing and enhancing our technology systems and infrastructure. Our efforts to grow our business may be more costly than we expect, and we may not be able to increase our revenue immediately or significantly to offset our operating expenses. We may incur significant losses in the future for a number of reasons, including the other risks described in this annual report, and unforeseen expenses, difficulties, complications and delays and other unknown events.

 

We have a limited operating history in the insurance agency market, which makes it difficult to evaluate our future prospects and results of operations and may increase the risk that we will not be successful. In addition, our historical growth and financial condition may not be indicative of our future growth, profitability, and financial condition.

 

Prior to our acquisition of Alpha Mind in December 2023, we operated in the long-term apartment rental business. We had limited operating history in the insurance agency market. Alpha Mind’s historical performance may not be indicative of our future financial results. Our growth may continue to become negative, and revenue and net profit may decline for a number of possible reasons, including the risk factors set forth in this annual report. We may not continue our growth or maintain our historical growth rates or financial condition. You should not consider our historical growth or financial condition as indicative of our future performance.

 

In addition, we may not successfully or efficiently operate and manage our newly acquired insurance agency business due to the limited experience of our management in the insurance agency industry. Although we are committed to leveraging our collective knowledge and skills to compete in the emerging and rapidly evolving market, and we are actively engaging in acquiring industry-specific expertise, our limited experience in the insurance agency industry may adversely impact our future performance and growth.

 

You should consider our future operations in light of the challenges and uncertainties that we may encounter. These risks and challenges include, among other things:

 

changes in national, regional or local economic, demographic or insurance agency market conditions;

 

changes in laws and policies on the insurance agency industry;

 

changes in job markets and employment levels on a national, regional and local basis;

 

health epidemics, pandemics and similar outbreaks, including COVID-19;

 

overall conditions in the insurance agency industry;

 

our ability to integrate strategic investments, acquisitions and new business initiatives;

 

our ability to maintain or renew favorable terms with financing partners and other strategic partners;

 

our ability to maintain, deepen and broaden cooperation with financial institutions, service providers and other third parties;

 

our ability to develop more value-added products and services;

 

our ability to effectively control our operating costs and expenses;

 

our ability to maintain the proper functioning of our technology systems and infrastructure;

 

disputes and potential negative publicity in connection with our business;

 

our ability to increase our brand awareness;

 

our ability to attract and retain employees; and

 

changes in U.S. accounting standards.

 

Any one or more of these factors could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

12

 

 

If we fail to maintain stable relationships with our business partners, our business, results of operations, financial condition and business prospects could be materially and adversely affected.

 

We cooperate with a variety of business partners in conducting our businesses, including customers and suppliers in our insurance agency business. Our success depends on our ability to, among other things, develop and maintain relationships with our existing business partners and attract new business partners.

 

For our insurance agency business, we provide agency services for well-known insurance companies in China by distributing primarily automobile insurance products underwritten by them, and receive commissions from these insurance companies. Our relationships with these insurance companies are governed by agreements between the insurance companies and us. These contracts generally provide, among other things, the scope of our authority and our commission rates, and typically have a term of one or two years. There is no assurance that we would be able to renew any such contracts upon their expiry with terms that are comparable to or better than the existing ones, if at all. Any interruption to or discontinuation of our relationships with these insurance companies may severely and negatively impact our results of operations.

 

In addition, customer and end-consumer recognition is critical for us to remain competitive. Our ability to maintain and enhance customer and end-consumer recognition and reputation depends primarily on the quality of the products and services we offer to them. If we are unable to maintain and further enhance our customer and end-consumer recognition and reputation and promote awareness of our product offerings and services, we may not be able to maintain or continue to expand our customer base, and our results of operations may be materially and adversely affected.

 

We also collaborate with various external referral sources to expedite our market penetration and broaden our end consumer base. Our external referral sources are our suppliers in the insurance agency business. Failure to establish and maintain stable relationships with our external referral sources may materially and adversely affect our ability to expand our business scale and geographical coverage, which in turn could adversely affect our results of operations and business prospects.

 

In addition, our cooperative agreements with our customers and suppliers are typically on a non-exclusive basis, and they may choose to cooperate with our competitors or offer competing services themselves. In any event, there is no assurance that we will be able to continuously maintain a mutually beneficial relationship with our business partners, or continue to cooperate with them on terms favorable to us, or at all. If any of the foregoing occurs, our business growth, results of operations and financial condition will be adversely affected.

 

Because the commission revenue we earn on the sale of insurance products is based on premium and commission rates set by insurance companies, any decrease in these premiums or commission rates, or increase in the referral fees we pay to our external referral sources, may have an adverse effect on our results of operation.

 

We derive our revenue from our insurance agency business by earning commissions from insurance companies we cooperate with. The commissions we receive from insurance companies on the insurance policies sold are generally calculated as a percentage of the insurance premiums paid by the insured. Our revenue and results of operations are thus directly affected by the size of insurance premiums and the commission rates for such policies. Insurance premiums and commission rates can change based on the prevailing economic, regulatory, taxation-related and competitive factors that affect insurance companies and end customers.

 

We also engage external referral sources in different geographical areas to promote insurance products, and pay referral fees to them for referring end customers to us. We may adjust the rates of referral fees at our discretion, depending on the competitive landscape and market conditions in the respective geographical markets. Accordingly, any increase in such rates would reduce our profit margin.

 

13

 

 

Because we do not determine, and cannot predict, the timing or extent of premium or commission rate changes, we cannot predict the effect any of these changes may have on our operations. Any decrease in premiums or commission rates we receive, and/or any increase in the rates of referral fees we pay to our external referral sources, could significantly affect our profitability. In addition, our capital expenditures and other expenditures may be disrupted by unexpected decreases in revenue caused by decreases in premiums or commission rates, thereby adversely affecting our operations and business plans.

 

We face intense competition in the markets we operate in, and some of our competitors may have greater resources or brand recognition than us.

 

The insurance agency market and the integrated after-sales service market in China are highly fragmented, and we expect competition to persist and intensify. In our insurance agency business, we face competition from other insurance agency companies and insurance companies that use their in-house sales force, their own direct online-sales platforms, exclusive sales agents, telemarketing, and internet or mobile channels to distribute their insurance products, and from business entities that distribute insurance products on an ancillary basis, such as commercial banks, postal offices and automobile dealerships for automobile insurance, as well as from other professional insurance intermediaries.

 

Some of our competitors have greater financial and marketing resources than we do, and may be able to offer products and services that we do not currently offer and may not offer in the future. The disruption of business cooperation with major banks and insurance companies we cooperate with may cause us to lose our competitive advantages in certain areas. If we are unable to compete effectively against and stay ahead of our competitors, we may lose customers and our financial results may be negatively affected.

 

We may not be able to provide diversified insurance products and services to effectively address our end customers’ needs, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.

 

We attract, procure and retain end customers by offering a variety of insurance product choices from various insurance companies. To continue to grow our end consumer base, we seek to collaborate with more insurance companies located in our existing and new geographical markets, while maintaining full spectrum insurance product choices. If we fail to respond to the changing and emerging needs and preferences of our customers and end customers and offer new products and services that are favored by them, we may lose out on our business volume and/or not be able to continue to attract new customers or maintain existing customers. If any of the foregoing occurs, our business, results of operations and financial condition may be materially and adversely affected.

 

We are subject to customer concentration risk.

 

We are subject to customer concentration risk. In 2022 and the six months ended June 30, 2023, the commission revenue generated from one client, a state-owned insurance company exceeded 10% of the total revenue for the respective period. In addition, we also face concentration from specific geographical regions. A significant number of our commission received of our policies sold are located in three provinces in Northern China, which collectively contributed over 60% of our commission revenue in 2021, 2022 and the six months ended, June 30, 2023. Factors such as localized economic downturn, or new regulations imposed by local authorizes, or any adverse event or circumstances unique to these regions could have an impact on our overall business.

 

There are a number of factors, other than our performance, that could cause the loss of, or decrease in the volume of business from, a customer. We cannot assure you that we will continue to maintain the business cooperation with these customers at the same level, or at all. The loss of business from any of these significant customers, or any downward adjustment of the commission rates paid to us, could materially adversely affect our revenue and profit. Furthermore, if any significant customer terminates its relationship with us, we cannot assure you that we will be able to secure an alternative arrangement with comparable insurance company in a timely manner, or at all. 

 

14

 

 

Our business is substantially dependent on revenue from our automobile insurance company partners and is subject to risks related to automobile insurance industry. Our business may also be adversely affected by downturns in the life, health, group accident and other property-related insurance industries.

 

A majority of the insurance purchased through our platform and agency services is automobile insurance. Our overall operating results are substantially dependent upon our success in our automobile segment. For the years ended December 31, 2021, 2022 and the six months ended June 30, 2023, 56.3%, 50.4% and 53.7%, respectively, of Alpha Mind’s total revenue was derived from its automobile segment. Our success in the automobile insurance market will depend upon a number of additional factors, including:

 

our ability to continue to adapt our sales to various automobile insurance products, including the effective modification of our product combination that facilitate the end customer experience;

 

our ability to retain partnerships with enough insurance companies offering automobile insurance products to maintain our value proposition with end customers;

 

  our ability to leverage technology in order to sell, and otherwise become more efficient at selling by using our mobile applications and other online platform; or

 

the effectiveness of our competitors’ marketing of automobile insurance plans.

 

These factors could prevent our automobile segment from successfully marketing, which would harm our business, results of operation, financial condition and prospects. We are also dependent upon the economic success of the life, health, group accident and other property-related insurance industries. Declines in demand for life, health, group accident and other property-related insurance could cause fewer end customers to shop for such policies through us. Downturns in any of these markets, which could be caused by a downturn in the economy at large, could materially and adversely affect our business, results of operation, financial condition and prospects.

 

End customers may increasingly decide to purchase insurance directly from insurance companies, which would have a material adverse impact on our financial condition, results of operations and prospects.

 

The advancement of financial technologies, or FinTech, and the emergence of internet insurance products allow insurance companies to directly access to a broader customer base at a low cost, and end customers may increasingly decide to purchase insurance directly from insurance companies. A rising number of traditional insurance companies have established their own online platforms to sell Internet insurance products directly to end customers. The process of eliminating agencies as intermediaries, known as “disintermediation,” could place us at a competitive disadvantage and reduce the need for our products and services. Disintermediation could also result in significant decrease in business volume and loss of commission income from our insurance agency business, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.

 

Our SaaS platform may not gain market acceptance, which could adversely affect our results of operations.

 

We launched our SaaS platform in 2023 to further expand our insurance agency business from offline to online. Though we have not generated any revenue from our SaaS platform to date, we expect it will become a source of our revenue going forward. The success of our SaaS platform depends on the adoption of SaaS platform in China’s insurance industry, which may be affected by, among other things, regulatory requirements and widespread acceptance of SaaS platform in general.

 

Market acceptance of SaaS platform depends on a variety of factors, including but not limited to price, security, reliability, performance, customer preferences, public concerns regarding privacy and the enactment of restrictive laws or regulations. It is difficult to predict the demand for insurance SaaS platform and the future growth rate and size of the insurance SaaS market.

 

If our or other platforms in the insurance industry or other industries experience security breaches, loss of customer data, disruptions in delivery or other problems, the market for SaaS platform may suffer. If SaaS platform do not achieve widespread adoption or the demand for SaaS platform fails to grow due to a lack of customer acceptance, technological challenges, weakening economic conditions, security or privacy concerns, competing technologies and solutions, reductions in corporate spending or otherwise, our business, results of operations and financial condition could be adversely affected. 

 

15

 

 

We face risks related to natural disasters, health epidemics or terrorist attacks in regions where we operate.

 

Our business could be materially and adversely affected by natural disasters, such as earthquakes, floods, landslides, tornados and tsunamis, outbreaks of health epidemics such as avian influenza and severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, COVID-19 pandemic, and Influenza A virus, such as H5N1 subtype and H5N2 subtype flu viruses, as well as terrorist attacks, other acts of violence or war or social instability in the regions in which we operate or those generally affecting China and regions where we operate. These events may not only led to a sudden halt of a large number of economic activities, but also caused a sharp tightening of global financial conditions and a significant deterioration in the economic outlook.

 

For example, during the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the traditional offline model of Alpha Mind’s life and health insurance business was hindered, including product sales and employment management. With respect to the property and casualty insurance business, the COVID-19 pandemic has adversely affected the vehicle sales volume of the PRC automobile industry, and, in turn, the automobile insurance business. Meanwhile, COVID-19 may have also brought extra pressure to the claims of certain types of our property and casualty insurance products. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought disruptions to economic activities and resulted in significant volatilities in the capital markets, which have, together with the lower interest rates, put pressure on our investment results.

 

There remains uncertainty with regard to the continued development of the COVID-19 pandemic and its implications. Any of these factors and other factors beyond our control could have an adverse effect on the overall business environment, cause uncertainties in the regions where we conduct business, exposing our business to unforeseen damages, and materially and adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition.

 

We may fail to attract and retain an experienced management team and qualified personnel.

 

Our continued success depends on our ability to attract and retain an experienced management team and other employees with the requisite expertise and skills. Our ability to do so is influenced by a variety of factors, including the structure of the compensation package that we formulate and the competitive market position of our overall compensation package. Our management team and skilled employees may leave us or we may terminate their employment at any time. We cannot assure you that we will be able to retain our management team and skilled employees or find suitable or comparable replacements on a timely basis. Moreover, if any of our management team or skilled employees leaves us or joins a competitor, we may lose end-customers. In addition, former employees may request certain compensation arising from their resignation or retirement, which we typically negotiate on a case-by-case basis. However, if we are unable to reach a mutually acceptable resolution with such employees, they may take other actions including, but not limited to, initiating legal proceedings. Such legal proceedings may require us to pay damages, divert our management’s attention cause us to incur costs and harm our reputation. Each of these foregoing factors could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

Any significant disruption in services on our mobile applications, websites or computer systems, including events beyond our control, could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operation.

 

Our business is highly dependent on the ability of our information technology systems to timely process a large number of transactions across different markets and products at a time when the volume of such transactions is growing rapidly. We are also increasingly relying on our mobile applications to facilitate the business process of our insurance agency. Usability of our mobile applications as perceived by users can influence customer satisfaction. The proper functioning and improvement of our mobile applications, our accounting, customer database, customer service and other data processing systems is critical to our business and to our ability to compete effectively. We cannot assure you that our business activities would not be materially disrupted in the event of a partial or complete failure of any of these primary information technology or communication systems, which could be caused by, among other things, software malfunction, computer virus attacks or conversion errors due to system upgrading. In addition, a prolonged failure of any of our information technology systems could damage our reputation and materially and adversely affect our operations and profitability.

 

16

 

 

Breakdown of any of our major IT and SaaS systems or failure to keep up with technological developments would materially and adversely affect our business, results of operations and future prospects.

 

Our proprietary technology and technological capabilities are critical to the development and maintenance of our IT and SaaS systems and infrastructure underlying our mobile applications and platforms, which in turn is vital to our business operations and planned developments. We need to keep abreast of the fast evolving IT developments, and continuously invest in significant resources, including financial and human capital resources to maintain, upgrade and expand our IT and SaaS systems and infrastructure in tandem with our business growth and developments. However, research and development activities are inherently uncertain, and investments in information technologies and development of proprietary technologies may not always lead to commercialization or monetarization, or lead to increased business volume and/or profitability. 

 

The fast evolving IT developments may also render our existing systems and infrastructure and those that are newly developed and implemented obsolete before we are able to reap sufficient benefits to recover their investment costs, and may lead to substantial impairments which would adversely affect our results of operations. Any significant breakdown of our IT and SaaS systems and infrastructure may materially and adversely affect our business, results of operations, reputation and business prospects, and may even subject us to potential claims or even litigations, particularly as parts of our IT and SaaS systems and infrastructure are linked to or connected with IT and SaaS systems and infrastructure of our insurance company partners, who are mostly sizeable and reputable financial institutions whom themselves are subject to stringent regulatory supervision. As we rely on our IT, SaaS systems, mobile applications and infrastructure to facilitate and conduct our business, any prolonged breakdown of systems and infrastructure could also materially impact our business and results of operations.

 

Misconduct of our in-house sales force and employees is difficult to detect and deter and could harm our reputation or lead to regulatory sanctions or litigation costs.

 

We promote insurance products through our in-house sales team and external referral sources. In addition, we engage external referral sources to deepen our market penetration and broaden end consumer reach, including referral service providers who have access to auto insurance end consumers, such as automobile after-sales service providers, external registered sales representatives. The activities and regulatory compliance of these sales and marketing force associated with our insurance agency business are subject to the terms of the agreements we entered into with them and subject to applicable PRC laws. Misconduct of any of them could result in violation of law by us, regulatory sanctions, litigation or serious reputational or financial harm. Misconduct could include:

 

making misrepresentation when marketing or selling insurance to end customers;

 

hindering insurance applicants from making full and accurate mandatory disclosures or inducing applicants to make misrepresentations;

 

hiding or falsifying material information in relation to insurance contracts;

 

falsifying insurance agency business or fraudulently returning insurance policies to obtain commissions; or

 

otherwise not complying with laws and regulations or our control policies, procedures, and undertakings.

 

We have internal policies and procedures to deter misconduct by our in-house sales force and external referral sources. We cannot assure you, therefore, that misconduct by any of our in-house sales team or our external referral sources may not occur, whether unintentional or otherwise, which may negatively impact our business, results of operations or financial condition. In addition, the general increase in misconduct in the industry could potentially harm the reputation of the industry and have an adverse impact on our business.

 

We are subject to credit risks from our customers.

 

We typically grant credit period to our insurance customers. While they are principally insurance companies that we only had relatively insignificant impairment of trade receivables in the past three years, there is no assurance that commission and fee income receivable by us will not be subject to disputes with our insurance customers. Given the background of our customers and the negotiating position they enjoy, in case of dispute we are typically in a less favorable position to succeed in recovering the trade receivables in dispute and our financial position and results of operations may be negatively impacted as a result. However, our credit risk assessment procedures may be subject to fraud or collusion to defraud or other illegal activities, and there is a risk that end customers may fail to repay the insurance premium to us. We may not always be able to detect or prevent such misconduct in a timely manner, and the precautions we take to prevent these activities may not be effective in all cases. Failure to protect our operations from fraudulent activities by our customers could result in reputational and economic damages to us and could materially and adversely affect our results of operations.

 

17

 

 

The development of new businesses and expansion into new markets may expose us to new risks and challenges.

 

Alpha Mind introduced its SaaS platform in 2023. We will continue developing new businesses and expanding into new markets within the scope permitted by regulatory authorities, which may expose us to new risks and challenges, including, but not limited to:

 

regulatory risks: we may face unfamiliar regulatory environments when developing new businesses and expanding into new markets;

 

competition risks: there may be intense competition in the markets of our new businesses, and our returns may be lower than expected; and

 

strategic and operational risks: our experience, expertise and/or skills in developing new businesses may not be sufficient, and new products and services may need time to gain market recognition; we may also encounter difficulties in recruiting sufficient qualified personnel, strengthening our management capabilities and improving information technology systems.

 

The Cybersecurity and data privacy law may also affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and financial condition.

 

In providing our services, a challenge we face is the secured collection, storage and transmission of confidential information. We acquire certain private information about end consumers, such as name, personal identification number, address and telephone number during the course of our business. We also obtained certain personal data from our insurance customers pursuant to the collaboration agreements with them, such as the vehicle registration number and registration date, the engine number, the make and model of the automobile and information about the current insured status of the automobile of a potential insurance purchaser. Any failure or perceived failure to maintain the security of personal and other data that are provided to or collected by us could harm our reputation and brand and may expose us to legal proceedings and potential liabilities, any of which could adversely affect our business and results of operations. Cybersecurity and data privacy and security issues are subject to increasing legislative and regulatory focus in China. Practices regarding the collection, use, storage, transmission and security of personal information by companies operating over the internet and mobile platforms have come under increased public scrutiny.

 

On September 14, 2022, the CAC, issued the Decision on Amending the Cyber Security Law of the PRC (Draft for Comments), increased the penalty cap, so after the amendment comes into effect, it could have an increased impact on our financial condition if we breach the Cybersecurity Law of the PRC. In addition, the Data Security Law of the PRC, which took effect on September 1, 2021, applies to data processing activities, including the collection, storage, use, processing, transmission, availability and disclosure of data, and security supervision of such activities within the territory of the PRC. On August 20, 2021, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (the “SCNPC”) promulgated the Personal Information Protection Law of the PRC (the “PIPL”), which took effect on November 1, 2021. The PIPL further emphasizes processors’ obligations and responsibilities for personal information protection and sets out the basic rules for processing personal information and the rules for cross-border transfer of personal information.

 

Regulatory requirements on cybersecurity and data privacy are constantly evolving and can be subject to significant changes, which may result in uncertainties regarding the scope of our relevant responsibilities. For example, The Regulations on the Administration of Cyber Data Security (Draft for Comments) (the “Draft Cyber Data Security Regulations”) was released by CAC on November 14, 2021. According to the Draft Cyber Data Security Regulations, data processors seeking a public listing in overseas that affect or may affect national security are required to apply for cybersecurity review. The scope of and threshold for determining what “affects or may affect national security” is still subject to uncertainty and further elaboration by the CAC. On January 4, 2022, together with 12 other Chinese regulatory authorities, the CAC released the Revised CAC Measures, which came into effect on February 15, 2022. Pursuant to the Revised CAC Measures, critical information infrastructure operators (the “CIIOs”) procuring network products and services, and online platform operators carrying out data processing activities which affect or may affect national security, shall conduct a cybersecurity review pursuant to the provisions therein. In addition, online platform operators possessing personal information of more than one million users seeking to be listed on foreign stock markets must apply for a cybersecurity review. On July 7, 2022, the CAC promulgated the Measures for the Security Assessment of Cross-Border Transfer of Data, which took effect on September 1, 2022. These measures aim to regulate cross-border transfers of data, requiring among other things, that data processors that provide data overseas apply to CAC for security assessments if: (1) data processors provide important data overseas; (2) critical information infrastructure operators or data processors process personal information of more than one million individuals provide personal information to overseas parties; (3) data processors that have cumulatively provided personal information of 100,000 people or sensitive personal information of 10,000 people to overseas since January 1 of the previous year, provide personal information to overseas parties; or (4) other scenarios required by the CAC to apply for security assessments occur. In addition, these measures require data processors to carry out self-assessments of risks of providing data overseas before applying to the CAC for security assessments.

 

18

 

 

According to Article 10 of Regulations on the Security Protection of Critical Information Infrastructure, the security protection departments of critical information infrastructure will timely notify the identification results to the operators. As of the date of this annual report, we had not received such notification. In addition, as advised by our PRC legal counsel, JunHe LLP, we believe we are compliant with the regulations or policies that have been issued by the CAC to date since we have not received any notice from any authorities identifying our PRC subsidiaries or the PRC operating entities as CIIOs or requiring us to go through cybersecurity review or network data security review by the CAC. In addition, We should not be deemed as CIIO on the basis that we had not received such notification from the security protection departments of critical information infrastructure. Moreover, we have not been subject to any material administrative penalties or other sanctions by any competent regulatory authorities in relation to cybersecurity, data and personal information protection. Our business does not involve the cross-border transfer of personal information and important data, and if it does in the future, we will take necessary technical and organizational measures to protect the security of the data, including using data encryption to secure personal information when it is in transit. As of the date of this annual report, there had not been a significant cybersecurity or data protection incident regarding theft, leakage, damage or loss of data or personal information. According to the Revised CAC Measures and the Draft Cyber Data Security Regulations if enacted as currently proposed, we do not expect ourselves to become subject to cybersecurity review by the CAC at this moment, given that: (i) data we handle in our business operations, either by its nature or in scale, do not normally trigger significant concerns over national security of China; and (ii) we have not processed, and do not anticipate to process in the foreseeable future, personal information for more than one million users or persons. Based on the above and the information currently available, we believe the impact of the CAC’s increasing oversight over data security on our business is immaterial as of the date of this annual report.

  

However, continued development of business operations by the Company could bring the Company within the scope of authority of the CAC rules, and future enacted or amended CAC rules may increase compliance standards on our business operation, and thus may have a substantial impact on our business. There are substantial uncertainties as to whether and how the CAC’s further actions and any amended version of the Cybersecurity Review Measures would impact U.S. listed companies like us. It is likely that our data processing activities within China are regulated under any future enacted or amended CAC rules, which may subject us to cybersecurity review if the PRC governmental authorities deem such activities have affected or may affect national security. If we will be subject to increased scrutiny regarding data security and data protection, our business, operation, reputation will be adversely affected. In addition, we could become subject to enhanced cybersecurity review or investigations launched by PRC regulators in the future. Any failure or delay in the completion of the cybersecurity review procedures or any other non-compliance with the related laws and regulations may result in fines or other penalties, including suspension of business, website closure, and revocation of prerequisite licenses, as well as reputational damage or legal proceedings or actions against us, which may result in a material change in our operations, the value of the securities registered or could significantly limit or completely hinder our ability to offer or continue to offer securities to investors and cause the value of such securities to significantly decline or be worthless.

 

We may be subject to intellectual property infringement claims or other allegations by third parties, which may materially and adversely affect our business, results of operations and prospects.

 

We cannot be certain that our operations do not or will not infringe upon or otherwise violate intellectual property rights or other rights held by third parties. We may be from time to time in the future subject to legal proceedings and claims relating to the intellectual property rights or other rights of third parties.

 

Additionally, there may be third-party intellectual property rights or other rights that are infringed by our products, services or other aspects of our business without our awareness. To the extent that our employees and the employees of the Current VIEs or consultants use intellectual property owned by others in their work for us, disputes may arise as to the rights in related know-how and inventions or other proprietary assets. If any third-party infringement claims are brought against us, we may be forced to divert management’s time and other resources from our business and operations to defend against these claims, regardless of their merits.

 

We may be involved in legal proceedings arising from our operations.

 

We may be involved in legal and administrative proceedings from time to time. As our business expands, we expect we will continue to face litigations and disputes in the ordinary course of our business, which may result in claims for actual damages, freezing of our assets and diversion of our management’ attention, as well as legal proceedings against our directors, officers or employees, and the probability and amount of liability, if any, may remain unknown for long periods of time.

 

The outcome of any claims, investigations and proceedings is inherently uncertain, and in any event defending against these claims could be both costly and time-consuming. Therefore, our reserves for such matters may be inadequate, and any unfavorable final resolution of any such litigation or proceedings could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition. Moreover, even if we eventually prevail in these matters, we could incur significant legal fees or suffer significant reputational harm, which could have a material adverse effect on our prospects and future growth.

 

19

 

 

If we fail to maintain an effective system of internal controls over financial reporting, we may not be able to accurately and timely report our financial results or prevent fraud, and investor confidence and the market price of our ADSs may be materially and adversely affected.

 

We are a public company listed in the United States subject to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 requires us to include a report of management on our internal control over financial reporting in our annual report on Form 20-F beginning with our annual report for the second fiscal year after the completion of the IPO. In addition, once we cease to be an “emerging growth company” as such term is defined under the JOBS Act, our independent registered public accounting firm must attest to and report on the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting. In the course of preparing and auditing our consolidated financial statements included in this annual report, we and our independent registered public accounting firm identified one material weakness in our internal control over financial reporting. As defined in the standards established by the U.S. Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, a “material weakness” is a deficiency or combination of deficiencies, in internal control over financial reporting, such that there is a reasonable possibility that a material misstatement of the annual or interim financial statements will not be prevented or detected on a timely basis.

 

The material weakness identified relates to lack of sufficient accounting and financial reporting personnel with appropriate knowledge of U.S. GAAP and SEC reporting requirements to (a) formalize and carry out key controls over financial reporting, (b) properly address complex accounting issues and (c) prepare and review consolidated financial statements and related disclosures in accordance with U.S. GAAP and SEC reporting requirements, and lack of a comprehensive accounting policy manual and closing procedure manual for its finance department to convert its primary financial information prepared under accounting principles generally accepted in the PRC into U.S. GAAP. We established an audit committee in November 2019. We have also engaged an internal control consultant to help us establish and improve our internal controls, hired additional accounting staff with appropriate understanding of U.S. GAAP and SEC reporting requirements, trained the existing financial reporting personnel and engaged an independent third party consultant to assist in establishing processes and oversight measures to comply with the requirements of Sarbanes-Oxley Act. We are in the process of implementing a number of measures to address the material weakness that has been identified, including formalizing a set of comprehensive U.S. GAAP accounting manuals, hiring more qualified internal auditors to strengthen our overall governance, providing relevant training to our accounting personnel and upgrading our financial reporting system to streamline monthly and year-end closings and integrate financial and operating reporting systems. We also plan to take other steps to strengthen our internal control over financial reporting, including enhancing our internal audit function independently led by audit committee. Although we plan to implement these measures to address the material weakness, implementation of these measures may not fully remediate the material weakness in a timely manner.

 

Our management concluded that our internal control over financial reporting is not effective as of September 30, 2023. Moreover, even if our management concludes that our internal control over financial reporting is effective, our independent registered public accounting firm, after conducting its own independent testing, may issue a report that is qualified if it is not satisfied with our internal controls or the level at which our controls are documented, designed, operated or reviewed, or if it interprets the relevant requirements differently from us. In addition, as we are a public company, our reporting obligations may place a significant strain on our management, operational and financial resources and systems for the foreseeable future. We may be unable to timely complete our evaluation testing and any required remediation.

 

During the course of documenting and testing our internal control procedures, in order to satisfy the requirements of Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, we may identify other weaknesses and deficiencies in our internal control over financial reporting. In addition, if we fail to maintain the adequacy of our internal control over financial reporting, as these standards are modified, supplemented or amended from time to time, we may not be able to conclude on an ongoing basis that we have effective internal control over financial reporting in accordance with Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. Moreover, our internal control over financial reporting may not prevent or detect all errors and fraud. A control system, no matter how well it is designed and operated, it cannot provide absolute assurance that misstatements due to error or fraud will not occur or that all control issues and instances of fraud will be detected. If we fail to achieve and maintain an effective internal control environment, we could suffer material misstatements in our financial statements and fail to meet our reporting obligations, which would likely cause investors to lose confidence in our reported financial information. This could in turn limit our access to capital markets, harm our results of operations, and lead to a decline in the trading price of the ADSs. Additionally, ineffective internal control over financial reporting could expose us to increased risk of fraud or misuse of corporate assets and subject us to potential delisting from the stock exchange on which we list, regulatory investigations and civil or criminal sanctions.

 

20

 

 

Our operations depend on the performance of the internet and mobile internet infrastructure and telecommunications networks in China, which may not be able to support the demands associated with our continued growth.

 

Almost all access to the internet in China is maintained through state-owned telecommunication operators under the administrative control and regulatory supervision of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, or the MIIT. Moreover, we primarily rely on a limited number of telecommunications service providers to provide us with data communications capacity through local telecommunications lines and internet data centers to host our servers. We have limited access to alternative networks or services in the event of disruptions, failures or other problems with the internet infrastructure or the telecommunications networks in China. We cannot assure you that these infrastructures will be able to support the demands associated with the continued growth in usage.

 

With the expansion of our business, we may be required to upgrade our facilities, technology, operational and information technology infrastructure to keep up with our business growth, which may require substantial investment. In addition, we may need to devote significant resources to creating, supporting and maintaining our mobile applications, given the increasing trend of accessing the internet through smart phones, tablets and other mobile devices and the continual release of new mobile devices and mobile platforms. However, we may not be able to effectively develop or enhance these technologies on a timely basis or at all, which may decrease end customers’ satisfaction and efficiency of our business process. Our failure to keep pace with rapid technological changes may impact our ability to retain or attract end customers of our products and services or generate income, and have an adverse effect on our business and results of operations. 

 

Our businesses are subject to regulation and administration by the CBIRC and other government authorities, and failure to comply with any applicable regulations and rules by us could result in financial losses or harm to our business.

 

We are subject to the PRC Insurance Law, Regulatory Provisions on Professional Insurance Agencies, and related rules and regulations. Our businesses in automobile insurance and other insurance areas are extensively regulated by the CBIRC, which has been given wide discretion in its administration of these laws, rules and regulations as well as the authority to impose regulatory sanctions on us. Under the amendments to the PRC Insurance Law promulgated in 2009, the CBIRC has been granted greater regulatory oversight over the PRC insurance industry, in part to afford policyholders more protection.

 

The terms and premium rates of the insurance products we carry, the commission rates we earn, as well as the way we operate our insurance agency businesses, are subject to regulations. Changes in these regulations may affect our profitability on the products we sell. Any tightening of regulations or administrative measures on insurance premiums or insurance agency commissions could have material adverse impact on the revenue and profitability of our insurance agency business, if we are not able to increase our insurance business volume sufficiently to compensate for the reduced revenue generated from automobile insurance commission, or pass on any downward impact on our commission rates to our external referral sources. Regardless, failure to comply with any of the laws, rules and regulations to which we are subject could result in fines, restrictions on business expansion, which could materially and adversely affect us.

 

Failure to obtain, renew, or retain certain licenses, permits or approvals may materially and adversely affect our ability to conduct our business.

 

We are required by PRC laws and regulations to hold various licenses, permits and approvals issued by relevant regulatory authorities to allow us to conduct our business operations including license for operating insurance agency service. Any infringement of legal or regulatory requirements, or any suspension or revocation of these licenses, permits and approvals may have a material adverse impact on our business. The licensing requirements within the insurance and insurance agency industry are constantly evolving and we may be subject to more stringent regulatory requirements due to clarification or change in interpretation or implementation of laws and regulations, or promulgation of new regulations or guidelines in China. We may be required to obtain other licenses, permits or approvals, or otherwise comply with additional regulatory requirements in the future. We cannot assure you that we will be able to retain, obtain or renew relevant licenses, permits or approvals in the future. This may, in turn, hinder our business operations and materially and adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition.

 

21

 

 

Examinations and investigations by the PRC regulatory authorities may result in fines and/or other penalties that may have a material adverse effect on our reputation, business, results of operations and financial condition.

 

From time to time, the CBIRC carries out comprehensive evaluations and inspections of the internal control and financial and operational compliance of PRC insurance agency companies in China. As a participant in the insurance agency industry in China, we are subject to periodic or ad hoc examinations and investigations by various PRC regulatory authorities in respect of our compliance with PRC laws and regulations, which may impose fines and/or other penalties on us. There is no assurance that we will be able to meet all applicable regulatory requirements and guidelines, or comply with all applicable regulations at all times, or that we will not be subject to fines or other penalties in the future as a result of regulatory inspections. 

 

Risks Related to Our Corporate Structure

 

If the PRC government determines that the contractual arrangements in relation to the VIE structure do not comply with PRC regulatory restrictions on foreign investment in certain industries, or if these regulations or the way they are interpreted change, we, the PRC subsidiaries could be subject to severe penalties or be forced to relinquish their interests in those operations.

 

We, the PRC subsidiaries and the Current VIEs face material risks relating to our corporate structure. We are not a Chinese operating company but a Cayman Islands holding company with operations conducted by their subsidiaries and through contractual arrangements with Current VIEs based in China, and this structure involves unique risks to investors. The VIE structure provides investors with exposure to foreign investment in China-based companies where Chinese law prohibits or restricts direct foreign investment in the operating companies, and investors may never hold equity interests in the Chinese operating companies. The PRC government regulates telecommunications-related businesses through strict business licensing requirements and other government regulations. If the PRC government deems that our contractual arrangements with the Current VIEs do not comply with PRC regulatory restrictions on foreign investment in the relevant industries, or if these regulations or the interpretation of existing regulations change in the future, we could be subject to severe penalties or be forced to relinquish our interests in those operations. Our holding company in the Cayman Islands, the Current VIEs, and investors of our company face uncertainty about potential future actions by the PRC government that could affect the validity and enforceability of the contractual arrangements with the Current VIEs and, consequently, significantly affect the financial performance of the Current VIEs and our company as a group.

 

Because we are an exempted company incorporated in the Cayman Islands, we are classified as a foreign enterprise under PRC laws and regulations, and each of the PRC subsidiaries is a foreign-invested enterprise (“FIE”). To comply with PRC laws and regulations, we conduct our business in China through the Current VIEs pursuant to a series of contractual arrangements among Current WFOE, the Current VIEs and its shareholders. See “Item 4. Information on the Company—C. Organizational Structure—Contractual Arrangements with the Current VIEs and Their Shareholders.” We, our subsidiaries and the investors do not have an equity ownership in, direct foreign investment in, or control through such ownership or investment of the Current VIEs. The contractual arrangements with respect to the Current VIEs are not equivalent to an equity ownership in the business of the Current VIEs. Any references in this annual report to control or benefits that accrue to us and our subsidiaries because of the Current VIEs are limited to, and subject to conditions for consolidation of, the Current VIEs under U.S. GAAP. Consolidation of Current VIEs under U.S. GAAP generally occurs if we or our subsidiaries (1) have an economic interest in the Current VIEs that provides significant exposure to potential losses or benefits from the Current VIEs and (2) have power over the most significant economic activities of the Current VIEs. For accounting purposes, we are the primary beneficiary of the Current VIEs. In addition, the contractual agreements governing the Current VIEs have not been tested in a court of law.

 

22

 

 

We believe that our corporate structure and contractual arrangements comply with PRC laws and regulations. Based on our understanding of the relevant laws and regulations, our PRC legal counsel, JunHe LLP, is of the opinion that each of the contracts among Current WFOE, the Current VIEs and its shareholders is valid, binding and enforceable in accordance with its terms.

 

However, substantial uncertainties remain regarding the interpretation and application of PRC laws and regulations. PRC government authorities may not agree that we and our subsidiaries’ corporate structure or any of the foregoing contractual arrangements comply with PRC licensing, registration or other regulatory requirements or policies.

 

If regulators deem we, our subsidiaries and the Current VIEs’ corporate structure and contractual arrangements to be illegal, either in whole or in part, we may have to modify our corporate structure to comply with regulatory requirements. We and our subsidiaries may not be able to achieve this without materially disrupting their business.

 

If we, our subsidiaries and the Current VIEs’ corporate structure and contractual arrangements violate existing or future PRC laws or regulations, the relevant regulatory authorities would have broad discretion in dealing with such violations, including:

 

revoking their business and operating licenses;

 

levying fines on us, the PRC subsidiaries;

 

confiscating any of the income generated by us, the PRC subsidiaries that the relevant regulatory authorities deem to be obtained through illegal operations;

 

discontinuing or restricting the operations of us, the PRC subsidiaries in China;

 

imposing conditions or requirements with which we, the PRC subsidiaries may not be able to comply;

 

shutting down the servers or blocking the applications, APIs, website, SaaS solutions or supporting services of us;

 

requiring us, the PRC subsidiaries to change their corporate structure and contractual arrangements;

 

restricting the right by us, the PRC subsidiaries to collect revenue; and

 

taking other regulatory or enforcement actions that could harm our business.

 

New PRC laws, rules and regulations may impose additional requirements on us, our subsidiaries and the Current VIEs’ corporate structure and contractual arrangements. If any of these penalties or requirements causes us and our subsidiaries to lose the rights to direct the activities of the Current VIEs or their right to receive economic benefits, we will no longer be able to consolidate the Current VIEs’ financial results in our consolidated financial statements, which could materially adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition.

 

We and the PRC subsidiaries rely on contractual arrangements with the Current VIEs and the Current VIEs’ shareholders to operate their business, which may not be as effective as direct ownership in providing operational control.

 

We and the PRC subsidiaries rely on contractual arrangements with the Current VIEs and its shareholders to operate their business. These contractual arrangements may not be as effective as direct ownership in providing us and the PRC subsidiaries with control over the Current VIEs.

 

23

 

 

Because we and the PRC subsidiaries do not have a direct ownership interest in the Current VIEs, we consolidate our financial results by relying on the performance by the Current VIEs and its shareholders of their respective obligations under the contractual arrangements with them. The shareholders of the Current VIEs may not act in the best interests of us and the PRC subsidiaries, or otherwise fail to perform their contractual obligations.

 

We and the PRC subsidiaries may replace the shareholders of the Current VIEs pursuant to the contracts with the Current VIEs and its shareholders. However, if any dispute relating to these contracts or the replacement of the Current VIEs’ shareholders remains unresolved, we and the PRC subsidiaries must enforce their rights under these contracts under PRC law and be subject to uncertainties in the PRC legal system.

 

Any failure by the Current VIEs or its shareholders to perform their obligations under their contractual arrangements with Current WFOE would materially adversely affect the business, results of operations and financial condition of us and the PRC subsidiaries.

 

If the Current VIEs or its shareholders fail to perform their respective obligations under their contractual arrangements with Current WFOE, we and the PRC subsidiaries may incur substantial costs and expend additional resources to enforce such arrangements. We and the PRC subsidiaries may also have to rely on legal remedies under PRC law, including seeking specific performance or injunctive relief, and claiming damages. Such remedies may not be effective.

 

Current WFOE’s contractual arrangements with the Current VIEs and its shareholders are governed by PRC laws and provide for the resolution of disputes through arbitrations in the PRC. Accordingly, these contractual arrangements would be interpreted in accordance with PRC laws, and any disputes arising from these contractual arrangements would be resolved in accordance with PRC legal procedures.

 

Uncertainties in the PRC legal system could limit the abilities of us and the PRC subsidiaries to enforce these contractual arrangements. In the event that we and the PRC subsidiaries cannot enforce the contractual arrangements with respect to the Current VIEs, or suffer significant delays or other obstacles in enforcing these contractual arrangements, the ability of us and PRC subsidiaries to conduct our business, and our financial condition and results of operations may be materially adversely affected. See “—Risks Related to Doing Business in China—Uncertainties in the interpretation and enforcement of PRC laws, rules and regulations could materially adversely affect our business.” 

 

The Current VIEs’ shareholders may have potential conflicts of interest with us, the PRC subsidiaries, which may materially adversely affect our business and financial condition.

 

The interests of the Current VIEs’ shareholders may differ from the interests of us, the PRC subsidiaries and the Current VIEs. When conflicts of interest arise, any or all of these individuals may not act in the best interests of us, the PRC subsidiaries, and any conflicts of interest may not resolve in the favor of us, the PRC subsidiaries. In addition, these individuals may breach or cause the Current VIEs and the PRC subsidiaries to breach or refuse to renew existing contractual arrangements with Current WFOE.

 

None of us, the PRC subsidiaries has arrangements to address potential conflicts of interest between these shareholders and any of themselves. We, the PRC subsidiaries rely on these shareholders to abide by the laws of the Cayman Islands and China. These laws provide that directors owe a fiduciary duty to the us to act in good faith and in our best interests and not to use their respective positions for personal gain.

 

However, the legal frameworks of China and the Cayman Islands do not provide guidance on resolving conflicts in the event of a conflict with another corporate governance regime. If we, the PRC subsidiaries cannot resolve any conflict of interest or dispute between any of themselves and the shareholders of the Current VIEs, we, the PRC subsidiaries will likely rely on legal proceedings, which could disrupt their business and subject them to substantial uncertainty as to the outcome of such proceedings.

 

24

 

 

Substantial uncertainties with respect to the implementation of the Foreign Investment Law may significantly impact the corporate structure and operations of us, the PRC subsidiaries.

 

On March 15, 2019, the National People’s Congress published the Foreign Investment Law of the People’s Republic of China (the “Foreign Investment Law”), which became effective on January 1, 2020 and replaced the Sino-Foreign Equity Joint Venture Enterprise Law, the Sino-Foreign Cooperative Joint Venture Enterprise Law and the Foreign Owned Enterprise Law to become the legal foundation for foreign investment in the PRC. Although the Foreign Investment Law stipulates three forms of foreign investment, it does not explicitly stipulate the contractual arrangements as a form of foreign investment.

 

The Foreign Investment Law stipulates that the concept of a foreign investment includes foreign investors investing in China through “any other methods” under laws, administrative regulations, or provisions prescribed by the State Council. Future laws, administrative regulations or provisions prescribed by the State Council may regard contractual arrangements as a form of foreign investment. As a result, the contractual arrangements may be deemed to violate foreign investment access requirements and the interpretation of the above-mentioned contractual arrangements.

 

Changes in PRC laws and regulations could materially adversely affect the contractual arrangements and the business of us, the PRC subsidiaries. If future laws, administrative regulations or provisions prescribed by the State Council mandate further actions by companies with existing contractual arrangements, we, the PRC subsidiaries may face substantial uncertainties as to the timely completion of such actions. We, the PRC subsidiaries could potentially be required to unwind the contractual arrangements and/or dispose the Current VIEs, which could materially adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition.

 

The bankruptcy or liquidation of the Current VIEs could materially adversely affect our business and results of operations.

 

If the Current VIEs become the subject of a bankruptcy or liquidation proceeding, we and the PRC subsidiaries may lose the ability to use and enjoy assets held by the Current VIEs. We and the PRC subsidiaries conduct operations in China through contractual arrangements with the Current VIEs and its shareholders and subsidiaries. As part of these arrangements, the Current VIEs hold substantially all of the assets that are important to the operation of our business.

 

If any of these entities goes bankrupt and all or part of their assets become subject to liens or rights of third-party creditors, they may be unable to continue some or all of their business activities, which could in turn materially adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition. If the Current VIEs undergo a voluntary or involuntary liquidation proceeding, their shareholders or unrelated third-party creditors may claim rights to some or all of these assets, which would hinder their ability to operate their business, and could in turn materially adversely affect our business and results of operations. 

 

Risks Related to Doing Business in China

 

Changes in China’s economic, political or social conditions or government policies could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, financial condition, and the value of our securities.

 

We conduct our business in China and substantially all of our assets are located in China. Accordingly, our business, results of operations and financial condition may be influenced to a significant degree by the PRC political, economic and social conditions. The Chinese government has significant oversight and discretion over the conduct of our business and may intervene or influence our operations as the government deems appropriate to further regulatory, political and societal goals. The Chinese government has recently published new policies that significantly affected certain industries such as the insurance agency business, and we cannot rule out the possibility that it will in the future release regulations or policies regarding our industries that could require us to seek permission from Chinese authorities to continue to operate our business, which may adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. Furthermore, recent statements made by the Chinese government have indicated an intent to increase the government’s oversight and control over offerings of companies with significant operations in mainland China that are to be conducted in foreign markets, as well as foreign investment in China-based issuers like us. Any such action, if taken by the Chinese government, could significantly limit or completely hinder our ability to offer or continue to offer ordinary shares to our investors and could cause the value of our ordinary shares to significantly decline or become worthless.

 

25

 

 

The economic, political and social conditions in China differ from those of the countries in other jurisdictions in many respects, including with respect to the amount of government involvement, level of development, growth rate, control of foreign exchange and allocation of resources. The PRC government exercises significant control over China’s economic growth by allocating resources, controlling payment of foreign currency-denominated obligations, setting monetary policy, regulating financial services and institutions, providing preferential treatment to particular industries or companies, or imposing industry-wide policies on certain industries. Economic reform measures may also be adjusted, modified or applied inconsistently from industry to industry or across different regions of the country, and there can be no assurance that the Chinese government will continue to pursue a policy of economic reform or that the direction of reform will continue to be market friendly.

 

While the Chinese economy has experienced significant growth in the past four decades, growth has been uneven, both geographically and among various sectors of the economy. Various measures implemented by the PRC government to encourage economic growth and guide the allocation of resources may benefit the overall Chinese economy, but may also have a negative effect on us. Our results of operations and financial condition could be materially and adversely affected by government control over capital investments, foreign investment or changes in applicable tax regulations. Any severe or prolonged slowdown in the rate of growth of the Chinese economy may adversely affect our business and results of operations, leading to reduction in demand for our products and adversely affect our competitive position. Additionally, the PRC government may promulgate laws, regulations or policies that seek to impose stricter scrutiny over, or completely revise, the current regulatory regime in certain industries or in certain activities. Furthermore, the PRC government has also indicated an intent to exert more oversight and control over overseas securities offerings and foreign investments in China-based companies. Any such actions may adversely affect our operations, and significantly limit or completely hinder our ability to offer or continue to offer securities to you and cause the value of our securities to significantly decline or be worthless.

 

Our ability to successfully maintain or grow business operations in China depends on various factors, which are beyond our control. These factors include, among others, macro-economic and other market conditions, political stability, social conditions, measures to control inflation or deflation, changes in the rate or method of taxation, changes in laws, regulations and administrative directives or their interpretation, and changes in industry policies. If we fail to take timely and appropriate measures to adapt to any of the changes or challenges, our business, results of operations and financial condition could be materially and adversely affected.

 

26

 

 

The approval of and/or filing with the CSRC or other PRC government authorities may be required in connection with our offshore offerings under PRC law, and, if required, we cannot predict whether or for how long we will be able to obtain such approval or complete such filing.

 

On February 17, 2023, the CSRC released a set of regulations consisting of six documents, including the Trial Administrative Measures of Overseas Securities Offering and Listing by Domestic Companies and five supporting guidelines, collectively, the Overseas Listing Filing Rules, which came into effective on March 31, 2023. According to the Overseas Listing Filing Rules, China-based companies that have already offered shares or been listed overseas prior to the implementation of such new regulations qualify as “Stock Enterprises”, and Stock Enterprises are not required to apply for the filing immediately until a subsequent overseas offering or listing occurs. However, the Overseas Listing Filing Rules, among others, require the issuer or its main operational entity in the PRC to file with the CSRC for its follow-on securities offerings in the same offshore market within three business days after the completion of such offerings, and file with the CSRC for its offerings or listing in offshore stock market other than the stock market of its initial public offering or listing within three business days after the submission of offering application outside mainland China.

 

We had been listed on the NASDAQ prior to the implementation of the Overseas Listing Filing Rules. As advised by our PRC legal counsel, JunHe LLP is of the view that we are qualified as a “Stock Enterprise” and are not required to apply for the filing immediately until a subsequent overseas offering or listing occurs according to the Overseas Listing Filing Rules. However, we are required to file with the CSRC for its follow-on securities offerings in the same offshore market within three business days after the completion of such offerings, and file with the CSRC for our offerings or listing in offshore stock market other than the stock market of our initial public offering or listing within three business days after the submission of offering application outside mainland China. Failure to comply with the filing requirements for any offering, listing or any other capital raising activities, may result in administrative penalties, such as order to rectify, warnings, fines and other penalties, on us, our controlling shareholders, the actual controllers, any person directly in charge and other directly liable persons. Given the uncertainties surrounding the CSRC filing requirements at this stage, we cannot assure you that we will be able to complete the filings and fully comply with the relevant new rules on a timely basis, or at all, if we conduct listing in other offshore stock markets or follow-on offerings, issuance of convertible corporate bonds, exchangeable bonds, or other kinds of equity security in the future.

 

As of the date of this annual report, we have not received any inquiry, notice, warning, or sanctions regarding offshore offering from the CSRC or any other PRC regulatory authorities. However, if it is determined in the future that approval from the CSRC or other regulatory authorities or other procedures are required for our offshore offerings, it is uncertain whether we can or how long it will take us to obtain such approval or complete such procedures and any such approval or completion could be rescinded. Any failure to obtain or delay in obtaining such approval or completing such procedures for our offshore offerings, or a rescission of any such approval obtained by us, would subject us to sanctions by the CSRC or other PRC regulatory authorities for failure to seek approval for our offshore offerings. These regulatory authorities may impose fines and penalties on our operations in China, limit our ability to pay dividends outside of China, limit our operating privileges in China, delay or restrict the repatriation of the proceeds from our offshore offerings into China or take other actions that could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations, and prospects, as well as the trading price of our ordinary shares and ADSs. 

 

Adverse changes in economic and political policies of the PRC government could negatively impact China’s overall economic growth, which could materially adversely affect our business.

 

We conduct substantially all of operations through the PRC subsidiaries, the Current VIEs in China. Accordingly, our business, results of operations, financial condition and prospects depend significantly on economic developments in China. China’s economy differs from the economies of most other countries in many respects, including the amount of government involvement in the economy, the general level of economic development, growth rates and government control of foreign exchange and the allocation of resources.

 

While the PRC economy has grown significantly over the past few decades, this growth has remained uneven across different periods, regions and economic sectors. The PRC government also exercises significant control over China’s economic growth by allocating resources, controlling the payment of foreign currency denominated obligations, setting monetary policy and providing preferential treatment to particular industries or companies. Any actions and policies adopted by the PRC government could negatively impact the Chinese economy, which could materially adversely affect our business.

 

27

 

 

Uncertainties in the interpretation and enforcement of PRC laws, rules and regulations could materially adversely affect our business.

 

We, the PRC subsidiaries and the Current VIEs face risks arising from the legal system in China. The PRC legal system is based on written statutes. In 1979, the PRC government began to publish a comprehensive system of laws and regulations governing economic matters in general, and forms of foreign investment (including wholly foreign-owned enterprises and joint ventures) in particular. These laws, regulations and legal requirements are relatively new and often change, and their interpretation and enforcement may raise uncertainties that could limit the reliability of the legal protections available to us, the PRC subsidiaries. In addition, the PRC legal system is based in part on government policies and internal rules, some of which are not published on a timely basis, and which may have retroactive effect. As a result, we may not be aware of violation of these policies and rules until after the violation occurs.

 

We cannot predict future developments in the PRC legal system. We may need to procure additional permits, authorizations and approvals for our operations, which we may not be able to obtain. Our inability to obtain such permits or authorizations may materially adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition.

 

Administrative and court proceedings in China may be protracted, resulting in substantial costs and diversion of resources and management attention. Since PRC administrative and court authorities retain significant discretion in interpreting and implementing statutory and contractual terms, it may be difficult to evaluate the outcome of administrative and court proceedings and the level of legal protection that we may enjoy. Uncertainties regarding the interpretation and enforcement of laws and that rules and regulations in China can change quickly with very short notice, along with the risk that the Chinese government may intervene or influence our operations at any time, or may exert more control over offerings conducted overseas and/or foreign investment in China-based issuers may impede our ability to enforce contracts and could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

PRC regulations relating to investments in offshore companies by PRC residents may subject PRC-resident beneficial owners or the PRC subsidiaries to liability or penalties, limit our ability to inject capital into the PRC subsidiaries or limit the PRC subsidiaries’ ability to increase their registered capital or distribute profits to us, or may otherwise adversely affect our business and financial condition.

 

On July 4, 2014, SAFE issued the Circular on Relevant Issues Concerning Foreign Exchange Administration on Domestic Residents’ Offshore Investment and Financing and Roundtrip Investment through Special Purpose Vehicles (“Circular 37”). Circular 37 replaced the Notice on Issues Relating to the Administration of Foreign Exchange in Fund-Raising and Reverse Investment Activities of Domestic Residents Conducted Through Offshore Special Purpose Companies (“Notice 75”), which became effective on November 1, 2005.

 

Circular 37 stipulates that prior to establishing or assuming control of an offshore company (the “Offshore SPV”), for financing that Offshore SPV with assets of, or equity interests in, an enterprise in the PRC, each PRC resident (whether a natural or legal person) who is a beneficial owner of the Offshore SPV must complete prescribed registration procedures with the local branch of SAFE. Pursuant to Circular 37, PRC residents must amend their SAFE registrations under certain circumstances, including upon any injection of equity interests in, or assets of, a PRC enterprise to the Offshore SPV or upon any material change in the capital of the Offshore SPV (including a transfer or swap of shares, a merger or division). 

 

On February 13, 2015, SAFE issued the Notice on Further Simplifying and Improving Policies for the Foreign Exchange Administration of Direct Investment (“Notice 13”). Notice 13 states that local PRC banks will examine and handle foreign exchange registrations for overseas direct investment, including the initial foreign exchange registration and amendment registration, from June 1, 2015. However, substantial uncertainties remain with respect to the interpretation and implementation of this notice by governmental authorities and banks.

 

On December 26, 2017, the NDRC issued the Measures for the Administration of Overseas Investment of Enterprises (“Measures 11”), which became effective from March 1, 2018. Measures 11 states that PRC enterprises must obtain approval from the NDRC or file with the NDRC their offshore investments made through controlled Offshore SPVs.

 

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Pursuant to the Measures 11 and the Measures for the Administration of Outbound Investment published by the MOFCOM in September 2014, any outbound investment of PRC enterprises must be approved by or filed with MOFCOM, NDRC or their local branches. State-owned enterprises may also be required to complete approval or filing procedures with state-owned assets supervision and administration authorities with respect to certain outbound direct investments.

 

We have requested that our current shareholders and beneficial owners who, to our knowledge, are PRC residents complete the foreign exchange registrations and that those who, to our knowledge, are PRC enterprises comply with outbound investment related regulations. However, we may not be fully aware of the identities of beneficial owners who are PRC residents. We do not have control over our beneficial owners and cannot guarantee that all of our beneficial owners who are PRC residents will comply with the requirements under Circular 37 or related SAFE rules, or other outbound investment related regulations.

 

If any of our beneficial owners who are PRC residents fail to comply with Circular 37 or related SAFE rules or other outbound investment related regulations, the PRC subsidiaries could be subject to fines and legal penalties. Failure to comply with Circular 37 or related SAFE rules or other outbound investment related regulations could be deemed as evasion of foreign exchange controls and subject us to liability under PRC law. As a result, SAFE could restrict our foreign exchange activities, including dividends and other distributions made by the PRC subsidiaries to us and our capital contributions to the PRC subsidiaries.

 

If any of our beneficial owners who are PRC residents fail to comply with Measures 11, the investments of such beneficial owners could be subject to suspension or termination, while such beneficial owners could be subject to warnings or applicable criminal liabilities. Any of the foregoing could materially adversely affect our operations, acquisition opportunities and financing alternatives.

 

Failure to comply with the registration requirements for employee stock ownership plans or share option plans may subject us and our PRC equity incentive plan participants to fines and other legal or administrative sanctions.

 

Pursuant to Circular 37, PRC residents who participate in share incentive plans in overseas non-publicly-listed companies due to their position as director, senior management or employee of the PRC subsidiaries of overseas companies may submit applications to SAFE or its local branches for foreign exchange registration before exercising rights. Our directors, executive officers and other employees who are PRC residents that have been granted options may follow Circular 37 to apply for foreign exchange registration.

 

We and our directors, executive officers and other employees who are PRC residents that have been granted options are subject to the Notice on Issues Concerning the Foreign Exchange Administration for Domestic Individuals Participating in Stock Incentive Plan of Overseas Publicly Listed company, issued by SAFE in February 2012. According to the Notice, employees, directors, supervisors and other management members participating in any stock incentive plan of an overseas publicly listed company who are PRC residents must register with SAFE through a domestic qualified agent and complete certain other procedures.

 

Failure to complete SAFE registrations may subject our employees and the employees of the Current VIEs, and our directors, supervisors and other management members participating in our stock incentive plans to fines and legal sanctions or limit the PRC subsidiaries’ ability to distribute dividends to us. Failure to complete SAFE registrations may also limit our ability to make payments under the share incentive plans or receive dividends or sales proceeds related thereto, or to contribute additional capital into the PRC subsidiaries in China. In addition, we face regulatory uncertainties that could restrict our ability to adopt additional share incentive plans for our directors and employees under PRC law.

 

We may be treated as a resident enterprise for PRC tax purposes under the PRC Enterprise Income Tax Law and may therefore be subject to PRC income tax.

 

Under the PRC Enterprise Income Tax Law effective from January 1, 2008 and last amended on December 29, 2018, as well as its implementation rules effective from January 1, 2008 and amended on April 23, 2019, an enterprise established outside of the PRC with a “de facto management body” in the PRC is considered a resident enterprise and will be subject to a 25% enterprise income tax on its global income. The implementation rules define the term “de facto management body” as an establishment that carries out substantial and overall management and control over the manufacturing and operations, personnel, accounting and properties of an enterprise.

 

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The State Administration of Taxation has issued guidance, known as Circular 82, which provides certain specific criteria for determining whether the “de facto management body” of a Chinese-controlled offshore-incorporated enterprise is located in China. Circular 82 only applies to offshore enterprises controlled by PRC enterprises, not those, such as us, controlled by foreign enterprises or individuals.

 

However, the determining criteria set forth in Circular 82 may reflect the State Administration of Taxation’s general position on how the “de facto management body” test should determine the tax resident status of offshore enterprises, regardless of whether they are controlled by PRC enterprises. We may be considered a PRC tax resident under the new tax law and may become subject to the uniform 25% enterprise income tax on their global income, which could materially adversely affect their results of operations.

 

Dividends payable to foreign investors and gains on the sale of Class A Ordinary Shares by foreign investors may become subject to PRC tax law.

 

Under the PRC Enterprise Income Tax Law and its implementing rules, in general, a 10% PRC withholding tax is applicable to dividends payable to investors that are non-resident enterprises that do not have an establishment or place of business in the PRC, or have such establishment or place of business but the dividends are not effectively connected with such establishment or place of business, in each case to the extent such dividends are derived from sources within the PRC. Similarly, any gain realized on the transfer of Class A Ordinary Shares by such investors is also subject to PRC tax at a current rate of 10%, subject to any reduction or exemption set forth in relevant tax treaties, if such gain is regarded as income derived from sources within the PRC.

 

If we are deemed as a PRC resident enterprise, dividends paid on the Class A Ordinary Shares, and any gain realized from the transfer of the Class A Ordinary Shares, will be treated as income derived from sources within the PRC and be subject to PRC taxation. Furthermore, if we are deemed as a PRC resident enterprise, dividends payable to individual investors who are non-PRC residents and any gain realized on the transfer of the Class A Ordinary Shares by such investors may be subject to PRC tax at a current rate of 20%, subject to any reduction or exemption set forth in applicable tax treaties.

 

If we or any of our subsidiaries established outside China are considered a PRC resident enterprise, it is unclear whether holders of the Class A Ordinary Shares can claim the benefit of income tax treaties or agreements entered into between China and other countries or areas. If dividends payable to non-PRC investors or gains from the transfer of the Class A Ordinary Shares by such investors are subject to PRC tax, the value of your investment in the Class A Ordinary Shares may decline significantly.

 

Our shareholders face uncertainties with respect to indirect transfers of equity interests in PRC resident enterprises by their non-PRC holding companies.

 

On February 3, 2015, the State Administration of Taxation issued the Circular on Issues of Enterprise Income Tax on Indirect Transfers of Assets by Non-PRC Resident Enterprises (“Circular 7”), which replaced or supplemented certain previous rules under the Notice on Strengthening Administration of Enterprise Income Tax for Share Transfers by Non-PRC Resident Enterprises (the “Circular 698”), issued by the State Administration of Taxation on December 10, 2009. Circular 7 sets out a wider scope of indirect transfer of PRC assets that might be subject to PRC enterprise income tax. Circular 7 also includes detailed guidelines regarding when such indirect transfer is considered to lack a bona fide commercial purpose and thus regarded as avoiding PRC tax. On October 17, 2017, the SAT issued the Announcement on Issues Relating to Withholding at Source of Income Tax of Non-resident Enterprises (the “SAT Circular 37”), which came into effect on December 1, 2017 and was amended on June 15, 2018. SAT Circular 37 further clarifies the practices and procedures for withholding non-resident enterprise income tax.

 

The conditional reporting obligation of the non-PRC investor under Circular 698 is replaced by a voluntary reporting by the transferor, the transferee or the underlying PRC resident enterprise transferred. Using a “substance over form” principle, PRC tax authorities may disregard the existence of the overseas holding company if the company lacks a reasonable commercial purpose and was established for the purpose of reducing, avoiding or deferring PRC tax. As a result, gains derived from such indirect transfer may be subject to PRC enterprise income tax, currently at a rate of 10%, and the transferee has an obligation to withhold tax from the sale proceeds.

 

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Gains from the sale of shares by investors through a public stock exchange are not subject to the PRC enterprise income tax pursuant to Circular 7 where such shares were acquired in a transaction through a public stock exchange.

 

There remains uncertainty as to the application of Circular 7 and the SAT Circular 37. PRC tax authorities may determine that Circular 7 and the SAT Circular 37 are applicable to offshore restructuring transactions or sale of the shares of offshore subsidiaries where non-resident enterprises, as the transferors, were involved. PRC tax authorities may pursue such non-resident enterprises with respect to a filing regarding the transactions and request the PRC subsidiaries to assist in the filing.

 

As a result, our non-resident subsidiaries in such transactions may risk being subject to filing obligations or being taxed under Circular 7 and the SAT Circular 37, unless it can be justified that the transactions are of reasonable business purposes such as group restructuring or other allowed circumstances. Practically, there has been no major transaction of similar nature challenged by the PRC tax authorities. However, given the increasingly tightened tax administration in China and the uncertainties under Circular 7, we cannot assure you that there is no tax reporting or settlement risk for such transactions.

 

Governmental control of currency conversion may limit the ability of us, the PRC subsidiaries to utilize our net revenues effectively and our ability to transfer cash among the group, across borders, and to investors and affect the value of your investment.

 

The PRC government imposes controls on the convertibility of Renminbi into foreign currencies and, in certain cases, the remittance of currency out of China. The PRC subsidiaries receive substantially all of their net revenue in Renminbi. Under the current corporate structure, we primarily rely on dividend payments from the PRC subsidiaries to fund any cash and financing requirements we may have.

 

The Renminbi is convertible under the “current account,” which includes dividends, trade and service-related foreign exchange transactions, but not under the “capital account,” which includes foreign direct investment and loans, including loans we may secure from or for our onshore subsidiaries. Certain PRC subsidiaries may purchase foreign currency for settlement of “current account transactions” without the approval of SAFE by complying with certain procedural requirements.

 

However, PRC governmental authorities may limit or eliminate the ability of the PRC subsidiaries to purchase foreign currencies for current account transactions. Foreign exchange transactions under the capital account remain subject to limitations and require approvals from, or registration with, SAFE and other relevant PRC governmental authorities.

 

Since a significant amount of the PRC subsidiaries’ revenue is denominated in Renminbi, any existing and future restrictions on currency exchange may limit their ability to utilize cash generated in Renminbi to fund their business activities outside of the PRC or pay dividends in foreign currencies to the shareholders, including holders of the Class A Ordinary Shares. These restrictions may also limit our ability to obtain foreign currency through debt or equity financing for the PRC subsidiaries.

 

Fluctuations in the value of the Renminbi may materially adversely affect your investment.

 

The value of the Renminbi against the U.S. dollar and other currencies may fluctuate and is affected by, among other things, changes in political and economic conditions in China and by China’s foreign exchange policies. With the development of the foreign exchange market and progress towards interest rate liberalization and Renminbi internationalization, the PRC government may announce further changes to the exchange rate system, and the Renminbi may appreciate or depreciate significantly against the U.S. dollar. It is difficult to predict how market forces or PRC or U.S. government policy may impact the exchange rate between the Renminbi and the U.S. dollar.

 

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Significant revaluation of the Renminbi may materially adversely affect your investment. For example, to the extent that we need to convert U.S. dollars received from offshore financing activities into Renminbi for the operations of the PRC subsidiaries, appreciation of the Renminbi against the U.S. dollar would decrease the Renminbi amount that we would have received from the conversion. Conversely, if we, the PRC subsidiaries convert Renminbi into U.S. dollars for the purpose of making payments for dividends on the Class A Ordinary Shares or for other business purposes, appreciation of the U.S. dollar against the Renminbi would reduce the U.S. dollar amount available to us, the PRC subsidiaries.

 

Limited hedging options are available in China to reduce our exposure to exchange rate fluctuations. As of the date of this annual report, we have not entered into any material hedging transactions to reduce our exposure to foreign currency exchange risk. While we may enter into hedging transactions in the future, the availability and effectiveness of these hedges may be limited, and we may not be able to adequately hedge our exposure. In addition, currency exchange losses may be magnified by PRC exchange control regulations that restrict our ability to convert Renminbi into foreign currency.

 

If the U.S. Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, or the PCAOB, is unable to inspect our auditors as required under the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act, the SEC will prohibit the trading of our ADSs. A trading prohibition for our ADSs, or the threat of a trading prohibition, may materially and adversely affect the value of your investment. Additionally, the inability of the PCAOB to conduct inspections of our auditors would deprive our investors of the benefits of such inspections.

 

Pursuant to the HFCA Act, if the PCAOB, is unable to inspect an issuer’s auditors for two consecutive years, the issuer’s securities are prohibited to trade on a U.S. stock exchange. The PCAOB issued a Determination Report on December 16, 2021 (the “Determination Report”) which found that the PCAOB is unable to inspect or investigate completely registered public accounting firms headquartered in: (1) mainland China of the People’s Republic of China because of a position taken by one or more authorities in mainland China; and (2) Hong Kong, a Special Administrative Region and dependency of the PRC, because of a position taken by one or more authorities in Hong Kong. Furthermore, the Determination Report identified the specific registered public accounting firms which are subject to these determinations (“PCAOB Identified Firms”).

 

Our former auditor, Marcum Asia CPAs LLP (“Marcum Asia”), the independent registered public accounting firm that issued the audit report for our fiscal year ended September 30, 2021 and 2022, our current auditor OneStop, which issued the audit report for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2023 included elsewhere in this annual report, as auditors of companies that are traded publicly in the United States and firms registered with the PCAOB, are subject to laws in the U.S. pursuant to which the PCAOB conducts regular inspections to assess its compliance with the applicable professional standards. As of the date of this annual report, Marcum Asia and OneStop are not included in the list of PCAOB Identified Firms in the Determination Report.

 

On August 26, 2022, the PCAOB announced that it had signed a Protocol with the CSRC and the MOF of the People’s Republic of China, governing inspections and investigations of audit firms based in mainland China and Hong Kong. Pursuant to the Protocol, the PCAOB conducted inspections on select registered public accounting firms subject to the Determination Report in Hong Kong between September and November 2022.

 

On December 15, 2022, the PCAOB board announced that it has completed the inspections, determined that it had complete access to inspect or investigate completely registered public accounting firms headquartered in mainland China and Hong Kong, and voted to vacate the Determination Report.

 

Notwithstanding the foregoing, the Company’s ability to retain an auditor subject to the PCAOB inspection and investigation, including but not limited to inspection of the audit working papers related to us, may depend on the relevant positions of U.S. and Chinese regulators. OneStop’s audit working papers related to us are located in China. With respect to audits of companies with operations in China, such as the Company, there are uncertainties about the ability of its auditor to fully cooperate with a request by the PCAOB for audit working papers in China without the approval of Chinese authorities. If the PCAOB is unable to inspect or investigate completely the Company’s auditor because of a position taken by an authority in a foreign jurisdiction, or the PCAOB re-evaluates its determination as a result of any obstruction with the implementation of the Statement of Protocol, then such lack of inspection or re-evaluation could cause trading in the Company’s securities to be prohibited under the HFCA Act, and ultimately result in a determination by a securities exchange to delist the Company’s securities. Accordingly, the HFCA Act calls for additional and more stringent criteria to be applied to emerging market companies upon assessing the qualification of their auditors, especially the non-U.S. auditors who are not inspected by the PCAOB. These developments could add uncertainties to our offering.

 

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If our ADSs are subject to a trading prohibition under the HFCA Act, the price of our ADSs may be adversely affected, and the threat of such a trading prohibition would also adversely affect their price. If we are unable to be listed on another securities exchange that provides sufficient liquidity, such a trading prohibition may substantially impair your ability to sell or purchase our ADSs when you wish to do so. Furthermore, if we are able to maintain a listing of our ordinary shares on a non-U.S. exchange, investors owning our ADSs may have to take additional steps to engage in transactions on that exchange, including converting ADSs into ordinary shares and establishing non-U.S. brokerage accounts.

 

The HFCA Act also imposes additional certification and disclosure requirements for Commission Identified Issuers, and these requirements apply to issuers in the year following their listing as Commission Identified Issuers. The additional requirements include a certification that the issuer is not owned or controlled by a governmental entity in the Relevant Jurisdiction, and the additional requirements for annual reports include disclosure that the issuer’s financials were audited by a firm not subject to PCAOB inspection, disclosure on governmental entities in the Relevant Jurisdiction’s ownership in and controlling financial interest in the issuer, the names of Chinese Communist Party, or CCP, members on the board of the issuer or its operating entities, and whether the issuer’s articles include a charter of the CCP, including the text of such charter.

 

The enforcement of the PRC Labor Contract Law and other labor-related regulations in the PRC may adversely affect our business and results of operations.

 

The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress enacted the Labor Contract Law in 2008, and amended it on December 28, 2012. The Labor Contract Law introduced specific provisions related to fixed-term employment contracts, part-time employment, probationary periods, consultation with labor unions and employee assemblies, employment without a written contract, dismissal of employees, severance, and collective bargaining to enhance previous PRC labor laws.

 

Under the Labor Contract Law, an employer must sign an unlimited-term labor contract with any employee who has worked for the employer for ten consecutive years. Furthermore, if an employee requests or agrees to renew a fixed-term labor contract that has already been entered into twice consecutively, the resulting contract, with certain exceptions, must have an unlimited term, subject to certain exceptions.

 

With certain exceptions, an employer must pay severance to an employee where a labor contract is terminated or expires. In addition, PRC governmental authorities have introduced various new labor-related regulations since the effectiveness of the Labor Contract Law. Under the PRC Social Insurance Law and the Administrative Measures on Housing Fund, employees must participate in pension insurance, work-related injury insurance, medical insurance, unemployment insurance, maternity insurance, and housing funds. Employers must apply for social insurance registration and open housing fund accounts for the employees and are required, together with their employees or separately, to pay the social insurance premiums and housing funds for their employees.

 

Certain of the PRC subsidiaries have not made full contributions to social security insurance plans and housing provident fund for our employees and the employees of the Current VIEs in compliance with the relevant PRC regulations. As a result, we may be required to make up the contributions for these plans as well as to pay late fees and fines.

 

In addition, certain of the PRC subsidiaries provide social security insurance through third-party human resources agencies to pay social insurance premiums and make contributions to housing funds. Under the agreements entered into between the third-party human resources agencies and the PRC subsidiaries and their relevant subsidiaries, the third-party human resources agencies are obligated to pay social insurance premiums and housing funds for employees of these entities. Such arrangement may be deemed as a failure to comply with the relevant PRC laws and regulations which require an employer to pay social insurance premiums and make contributions to housing funds. Furthermore, if the third-party human resource agencies fail to pay the social insurance premiums or housing fund contributions for and on behalf of employees as required under applicable PRC laws and regulations, the PRC subsidiaries and their subsidiaries may be subject to penalties imposed by the local social insurance authorities and the local housing fund management centers for failing to discharge their obligations to pay social insurance and housing funds as an employer. In addition, we have accrued in the financial statements but not made full contributions to the social insurance plans and the housing provident fund for employees as required by the relevant PRC laws and regulations. As of the date of this annual report, we are not aware of any notice from regulatory authorities or any claim or request from these employees in this regard.

 

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As the interpretation and implementation of these regulations are evolving, employment practices of the PRC subsidiaries may not be at all times deemed in compliance with the regulations. As a result, these entities could be subject to penalties or incur significant liabilities in connection with labor disputes or investigations.

 

There are uncertainties under the PRC laws relating to the procedures for U.S. regulators to investigate and collect evidence from companies located in the PRC.

 

Shareholder claims or regulatory investigation that are common in the United States generally are difficult to pursue as a matter of law or practicality in China. For instance, in China, there are significant legal and other obstacles to providing information needed for regulatory investigations or litigations initiated outside China. Although the authorities in China may establish a regulatory cooperation mechanism with the securities regulatory authorities of another country or region to implement cross-border supervision and administration, such cooperation with the securities regulatory authorities in the Unities States may not be efficient in the absence of mutual and practical cooperation mechanism.

 

According to Article 177 of the PRC Securities Law (the “Article 177”), which became effective in March 2020, no overseas securities regulator is allowed to directly conduct investigation or evidence collection activities within the territory of the PRC. Accordingly, without PRC government approval, no entity or individual in China may provide documents and information relating to securities business activities to overseas regulators when it is under direct investigation or evidence discovery conducted by overseas regulators, which could present significant legal and other obstacles to obtaining information needed for investigations and litigation conducted outside of China. The inability for an overseas securities regulator to directly conduct investigation or evidence collection activities within China may further increase difficulties faced by you in protecting your interests. Furthermore, as of the date of this annual report, there have not been implementing rules or regulations regarding the application of Article 177, and, accordingly, it remains unclear as to how it will be interpreted, implemented or applied by relevant government authorities. As such, there are also uncertainties as to the procedures and requisite timing for the overseas securities regulatory agencies to conduct investigations and collect evidence within the territory of the PRC. If the U.S. securities regulatory agencies are unable to conduct such investigations, there exists a risk that they may determine to suspend or de-register our registration with the SEC and may also delist our securities from trading market within the United States.

 

Risks Related to the ADSs

 

The market price for the ADSs is volatile.

 

The trading prices of the ADSs have fluctuated significantly and will continue to be volatile and could fluctuate widely due to factors beyond our control. This may happen because of broad market and industry factors, like the performance and fluctuation in the market prices or the underperformance or deteriorating financial results of other listed internet or other companies based in China that have listed their securities in the United States in recent years. The securities of some of these companies have experienced significant volatility since their initial public offerings, including, in some cases, substantial price declines in their trading prices. The trading performances of other Chinese companies’ securities after their offerings, including internet and e commerce companies, may affect the attitudes of investors toward Chinese companies listed in the United States, which consequently may impact the trading performance of the ADSs, regardless of our actual operating performance. In addition, any negative news or perceptions about inadequate corporate governance practices or fraudulent accounting, corporate structure or other matters of other Chinese companies may also negatively affect the attitudes of investors towards Chinese companies in general, including us, regardless of whether we have conducted any inappropriate activities. In addition, securities markets may from time to time experience significant price and volume fluctuations that are not related to our operating performance, which may have a material adverse effect on the market price of the ADSs.

 

In addition to the above factors, the price and trading volume of the ADSs may be highly volatile due to multiple factors, including, among others, (i) regulatory developments affecting us, our business partners, third-party service providers, financial institutions, or our industry, (ii) market conditions in the insurance agency industry, (iii) changes in the performance or market valuations of other insurance agency companies, (iv) announcements by us or our competitors of new product and service offerings, acquisitions, strategic relationships, joint ventures or capital commitments, (v) actual or anticipated fluctuations in our quarterly results of operations and changes or revisions of our expected results, or changes in financial estimates by securities research analysts, (vi) negative publicity about us, our management or our industry, (vii) additions to or departures of our directors and senior management, and (viii) sales or perceived potential sales of additional ordinary shares or ADSs. Furthermore, as a result of the narrow band of our ADSs publicly available for trading, small trades can cause significant percentage changes in valuation in a short time period. Such volatility may affect the attitude of investors towards our securities, which consequently may impact the trading performance of our ADSs, regardless of our actual operating performance.

 

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If we fail to meet the applicable listing requirements, NASDAQ may delist our ADSs from trading on its exchange in which case the liquidity and market price of our ADSs could decline and our ability to raise additional capital would be adversely affected.

 

Our ADSs are currently listed for trading on the NASDAQ Global Market. There are a number of requirements that must be met in order for our ADSs to remain listed on the NASDAQ Global Market, including but not limited to the minimum bid price of at least US$1.00 per ADS and the minimum number and market value of publicly held shares, and the failure to meet any of these listing standards could result in the delisting of our ADSs from NASDAQ. We cannot assure you that we will be able to comply with all Nasdaq Listing Rules at all times, or regain compliance in a timely manner in case of a default and avoid any subsequent adverse action taken by NASDAQ, including but not limited to delisting.

 

An active market for the ADSs may not be maintained.

 

The ADSs began trading on NASDAQ in November 2019, and we can provide no assurance that we will be able to maintain an active trading market on NASDAQ or any other exchange in the future. If an active market for the ADSs is not maintained, it may be difficult for the ADS holders to sell the ADSs without depressing the market price for the ADSs, or at all. An inactive market may also impair our ability to raise capital by selling ADSs and may impair our ability to acquire other businesses or property using our ADSs as consideration.

 

If securities or industry analysts do not publish research or publish inaccurate or unfavorable research about our business, the market price for the ADSs and trading volume could decline.

 

The trading market for the ADSs will depend in part on the research and reports that securities or industry analysts publish about us or our business. If research analysts do not establish and maintain adequate research coverage or if one or more of the analysts who cover us downgrade our ADSs or publish inaccurate or unfavorable research about our business, the market price for the ADSs would likely decline. If one or more of these analysts cease coverage of our company or fail to publish reports on us regularly, we could lose visibility in the financial markets, which, in turn, could cause the market price or trading volume for the ADSs to decline.

 

Because we do not expect to pay dividends in the foreseeable future, you must rely on price appreciation of the ADSs for return on your investment.

 

We currently intend to retain most, if not all, of our available funds and any future earnings to fund the development and growth of our business. As a result, we do not expect to pay any cash dividends in the foreseeable future. Therefore, you should not rely on an investment in the ADSs as a source for any future dividend income.

 

Our board of directors has discretion as to whether to distribute dividends, subject to certain restrictions under Cayman Islands law, namely that our company may only pay dividends out of profits or share premium, and provided always that in no circumstances may a dividend be paid if this would result in our company being unable to pay its debts at they fall due in the ordinary course of business. Even if our board of directors decides to declare and pay dividends, the timing, amount and form of future dividends, if any, will depend on, among other things, our future results of operations and cash flow, our capital requirements and surplus, the amount of distributions, if any, received by us from our subsidiary, our financial condition, contractual restrictions and other factors deemed relevant by our board of directors. Accordingly, the return on your investment in ADSs will likely depend entirely upon any future price appreciation of the ADSs. There is no guarantee that our ADSs will appreciate in value or even maintain the price at which the ADS holders purchased the ADSs. You may not realize a return on your investment in the ADSs and you may even lose your entire investment in the ADSs.

  

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Substantial future sales or perceived potential sales of ADSs in the public market could cause the price of the ADSs to decline.

 

Sales of the ADSs in the public market, or the perception that these sales could occur, could cause the market price of the ADSs to decline. As of the date of this annual report, we had 2,837,892,046,400 ordinary shares outstanding, consisting of 2,587,892,046,400 Class A ordinary shares represented by ADSs and 250,000,000,000 Class B ordinary shares. All our ADSs are freely transferable without restriction or additional registration under the Securities Act. The remaining ordinary shares outstanding are subject to volume and other restrictions as applicable under Rules 144 and 701 under the Securities Act. To the extent shares are sold into the market, the market price of the ADSs could decline.

 

We have granted share-based awards to certain management, employees and non-employees. In addition, we adopted a share incentive plan in 2019, or the 2019 Plan, and subsequently introduced a new share incentive plan in 2022, or the 2022 Plan under which we may have the discretion to grant a range of share-based awards to eligible participants. We intend to register all Class A ordinary shares that we have issued or that we may issue in connection with any employee share-based awards. Once we register these ordinary shares, ADSs representing them can be freely sold in the public market upon issuance, subject to volume limitations applicable to affiliates. If ADSs representing a large number of our ordinary shares or securities convertible into our ordinary shares are sold in the public market after they become eligible for sale, the sales could reduce the trading price of the ADSs and impede our ability to raise future capital. In addition, any ordinary shares that we issue under our share incentive plan would dilute the percentage ownership held by investors who purchase the ADSs.

 

The voting rights of holders of ADSs are limited by the terms of the deposit agreement, and you may not be able to exercise your right to direct the voting of the underlying ordinary shares which are represented by your ADSs.

 

As a holder of our ADSs, you will not have any direct right to attend general meetings of our shareholders or to cast any votes at such meetings. You will only be able to exercise the voting rights which attach to the underlying ordinary shares which are represented by your ADSs indirectly by giving voting instructions to the depositary in accordance with the provisions of the deposit agreement. Under the deposit agreement, you may vote only by giving voting instructions to the depositary, as the holder of the underlying ordinary shares which are represented by your ADSs. If we ask for your instructions, upon receipt of your voting instructions, the depositary will endeavor to vote the underlying ordinary shares in accordance with your instructions. You will not be able to directly exercise any right to vote with respect to the underlying ordinary shares unless you withdraw the shares and become the registered holder of such shares prior to the record date for the general meeting. Under our third amended and restated memorandum and articles of association, the minimum notice period required to be given by our company to our registered shareholders for convening a general meeting is ten (10) days. When a general meeting is convened, you may not receive sufficient advance notice to enable you to withdraw the underlying shares which are represented by your ADSs and become the registered holder of such shares prior to the record date for the general meeting to allow you to attend the general meeting or to vote directly with respect to any specific matter or resolution which is to be considered and voted upon at the general meeting. In addition, under third amended and restated memorandum and articles of association, for the purposes of determining those shareholders who are entitled to attend and vote at any general meeting, our directors may close our register of members and/or fix in advance a record date for such meeting, and such closure of our register of members or the setting of such a record date may prevent you from withdrawing the underlying shares represented by your ADSs and becoming the registered holder of such shares prior to the record date, so that you would not be able to attend the general meeting or to vote directly. Where any matter is to be put to a vote at a general meeting, the depositary will, if we request, and subject to the terms of the deposit agreement, endeavor to notify you of the upcoming vote and to deliver our voting materials to you. We cannot assure you that you will receive the voting materials in time to ensure that you can instruct the depositary to vote the underlying shares which are represented by your ADSs. In addition, the depositary and its agents are not responsible for failing to carry out voting instructions or for their manner of carrying out your voting instructions. This means that you may not be able to exercise your right to direct the voting of the underlying shares which are represented by your ADSs, and you may have no legal remedy if the underlying shares are not voted as you requested.

 

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Your right to participate in any future rights offerings may be limited, which may cause dilution to your holdings.

 

We may from time to time distribute rights to our shareholders, including rights to acquire our securities. However, we cannot make such rights available to you in the United States unless we register both the rights and the securities to which the rights relate under the Securities Act or an exemption from the registration requirements is available. Under the deposit agreement, the depositary will not make rights available to you unless both the rights and the underlying securities to be distributed to ADS holders are either registered under the Securities Act or exempt from registration under the Securities Act. We are under no obligation to file a registration statement with respect to any such rights or securities or to endeavor to cause such a registration statement to be declared effective and we may not be able to establish a necessary exemption from registration under the Securities Act.

 

Accordingly, you may be unable to participate in our rights offerings in the future and may experience dilution in your holdings.

 

You may not receive dividends or other distributions on our ordinary shares and you may not receive any value for them, if it is illegal or impractical to make them available to you.

 

The depositary has agreed to pay to you the cash dividends or other distributions it or the custodian receives on our ordinary shares or other deposited securities underlying your ADSs, after deducting its fees and expenses. You will receive these distributions in proportion to the number of ordinary shares your ADSs represent. However, the depositary is not responsible if it decides that it is unlawful or impractical to make a distribution available to any holders of ADSs. For example, it would be unlawful to make a distribution to a holder of ADSs if it consists of securities that require registration under the Securities Act but that are not properly registered or distributed under an applicable exemption from registration. The depositary may also determine that it is not feasible to distribute certain property through the mail. Additionally, the value of certain distributions may be less than the cost of mailing them. In these cases, the depositary may determine not to distribute such property. We have no obligation to register under U.S. securities laws any ADSs, ordinary shares, rights or other securities received through such distributions. We also have no obligation to take any other action to permit the distribution of ADSs, ordinary shares, rights or anything else to holders of ADSs. This means that you may not receive distributions we make on our ordinary shares or any value for them if it is illegal or impractical for us to make them available to you. These restrictions may cause a material decline in the value of the ADSs.

 

ADSs holders may not be entitled to a jury trial with respect to claims arising out of or relating to our shares, the ADSs or the deposit agreement, which could result in less favorable outcomes to the plaintiffs in any such action.

 

The deposit agreement governing the ADSs representing our Class A ordinary shares provides that, to the fullest extent permitted by law, ADS holders waive the right to a jury trial of any claim they may have against us or the depositary arising out of or relating to our shares, the ADSs or the deposit agreement, including any claim under the U.S. federal securities laws.

 

If we or the depositary opposed a jury trial demand based on the waiver, the court would determine whether the waiver was enforceable based on the facts and circumstances of that case in accordance with the applicable state and federal law. To our knowledge, the enforceability of a contractual pre-dispute jury trial waiver in connection with claims arising under the federal securities laws has not been finally adjudicated by the United States Supreme Court. However, we believe that a contractual pre-dispute jury trial waiver provision is generally enforceable, including under the laws of the State of New York, which govern the deposit agreement, by a federal or state court in the City of New York, which has non-exclusive jurisdiction over matters arising under the deposit agreement. In determining whether to enforce a contractual pre-dispute jury trial waiver provision, courts will generally consider whether a party knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily waived the right to a jury trial. We believe that this is the case with respect to the deposit agreement and the ADSs. It is advisable that you consult legal counsel regarding the jury waiver provision before entering into the deposit agreement.

 

If you or any other holders or beneficial owners of ADSs, including purchasers of ADSs in secondary market transactions, bring a claim against us or the depositary in connection with matters arising under the deposit agreement or the ADSs, including claims under federal securities laws, you or such other holder or beneficial owner may not be entitled to a jury trial with respect to such claims and may incur increased costs of bringing a claim, which may have the effect of limiting and discouraging lawsuits against us and the depositary. If a lawsuit is brought against either or both of us and the depositary under the deposit agreement, it may be heard only by a judge or justice of the applicable trial court, which would be conducted according to different civil procedures and may result in different outcomes than a trial by jury would have, including results that could be less favorable to the plaintiffs in any such action.

 

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Nevertheless, if this jury trial waiver provision is not permitted by applicable law, an action could proceed under the terms of the deposit agreement with a jury trial. No condition, stipulation or provision of the deposit agreement or ADSs serves as a waiver by any holder or beneficial owner of ADSs (including purchasers of our ADSs in the secondary market) or by us or the depositary of compliance with any substantive provision of the U.S. federal securities laws and the rules and regulations promulgated thereunder.

 

Your rights to pursue claims against us and the depositary as a holder of ADSs are limited by the terms of the deposit agreement.

 

The deposit agreement governing the ADSs representing our Class A ordinary shares provides that ADS holders, including purchasers of ADSs in secondary market transactions and the depositary have the right to elect to have any claim they may have against us arising out of or relating to our Class A ordinary shares or ADSs or the deposit agreement settled by arbitration in New York, New York rather than in a court of law, and to have any judgment rendered by the arbitrators entered in any court having jurisdiction. An arbitral tribunal in any such arbitration would not have the authority to award any consequential, special, or punitive damages and its award would have to conform to the provisions of the deposit agreement. The deposit agreement does not give us the right to require that any claim, whether brought by us or against us, be arbitrated. We believe that an optional contractual arbitration provision is generally enforceable, including under the laws of the State of New York, which govern the deposit agreement.

 

No condition or provision of the deposit agreement or ADSs serves as a waiver by any owner or holder of ADSs, including purchasers of ADSs in secondary market transactions or by us or the depositary of compliance with any substantive provision of the U.S. federal securities laws and the rules and regulations promulgated thereunder. Therefore, to the extent there are specific federal securities law violation aspects to any claims against us or the depositary brought by any holder or owner of ADSs, including purchasers of ADSs in secondary market transactions, the federal securities law violation aspects of such claims may, at the option of such holders or owners, remain in state or federal court in the State of New York.

 

By agreeing to such optional arbitration provision, you will not be deemed to have waived our or the depositary’s compliance with U.S. federal securities laws and the rules and regulations promulgated thereunder.

 

You may be subject to limitations on transfer of your ADSs.

 

Your ADSs are transferable on the books of the depositary. However, the depositary may close its transfer books at any time or from time to time when it deems expedient in connection with the performance of its duties. In addition, the depositary may refuse to deliver, transfer or register transfers of ADSs generally when our books or the books of the depositary are closed, or at any time if we or the depositary deems it advisable to do so because of any requirement of law or of any government or governmental body, or under any provision of the deposit agreement, or for any other reason.

 

Certain judgments obtained against us may not be enforceable.

 

We are an exempted company limited by shares incorporated under the laws of the Cayman Islands. We conduct substantially all of our operations in China and substantially all of our assets are located in China. In addition, a majority of our directors and executive officers reside within China, and most of the assets of these persons are located within China. As a result, it may be difficult or impossible for you to effect service of process within the United States upon these individuals, or to bring an action against us or against these individuals in the United States in the event that you believe your rights have been infringed under the U.S. federal securities laws or otherwise. Even if you are successful in bringing an action of this kind, the laws of the Cayman Islands and of the PRC may render you unable to enforce a judgment against our assets or the assets of our directors and officers.

 

There is uncertainty as to whether the courts of the Cayman Islands would (i) recognize or enforce judgments of U.S. courts obtained against us or our directors or officers that are predicated upon the civil liability provisions of the securities laws of the United States or any state in the United States, or (ii) entertain original actions brought in the Cayman Islands against us or our directors or officers that are predicated upon the securities laws of the United States or any state in the United States. Although there is no statutory enforcement in the Cayman Islands of judgments obtained in the federal or state courts of the United States, the courts of the Cayman Islands would recognize as a valid judgment, a final and conclusive judgment in personam obtained in the foreign courts against our company under which a sum of money is payable (other than a sum of money payable in respect of multiple damages, taxes or other charges of a like nature or in respect of a fine or other penalty) or, in certain circumstances, an in personam judgment for non-monetary relief, and would give a judgment based thereon provided that (a) such courts had proper jurisdiction over the parties subject to such judgment, (b) such courts did not contravene the rules of natural justice of the Cayman Islands, (c) such judgment was not obtained by fraud, (d) the enforcement of the judgment would not be contrary to the public policy of the Cayman Islands, (e) no new admissible evidence relevant to the action is submitted prior to the rendering of the judgment by the courts of the Cayman Islands, and (f) there is due compliance with the correct procedures under the laws of the Cayman Islands. However, the Cayman Islands courts are unlikely to enforce a judgment obtained from United States courts under civil liability provisions of the U.S. federal securities law if such judgment is determined by the courts of the Cayman Islands to give rise to obligations to make payments that are penal or punitive in nature. Because such a determination has not yet been made by a court of the Cayman Islands, it is uncertain whether such civil liability judgments from U.S. courts would be enforceable in the Cayman Islands. A Cayman Islands court may stay enforcement proceedings if concurrent proceedings are being brought elsewhere. The recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments are provided for under the PRC Civil Procedures Law. PRC courts may recognize and enforce foreign judgments in accordance with the requirements of the PRC Civil Procedures Law based either on treaties between China and the country where the judgment is made or on principles of reciprocity between jurisdictions. China does not have any treaties or other forms of reciprocity with the United States that provide for the reciprocal recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments. In addition, according to the PRC Civil Procedures Law, the PRC courts will not enforce a foreign judgment against us or our director and officers if they decide that the judgment violates the basic principles of PRC laws or national sovereignty, security or public interest. As a result, it is uncertain whether and on what basis a PRC court would enforce a judgment rendered by a court in the United States.

 

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You may face difficulties in protecting your interests, and your ability to protect your rights through U.S. courts may be limited, because we are incorporated under Cayman Islands law.

 

We are an exempted company limited by shares incorporated under the laws of the Cayman Islands. Our corporate affairs are governed by our third amended and restated memorandum and articles of association, the Companies Act (2023 Revision) (as amended) of the Cayman Islands (the “Company Act”) and the common law of the Cayman Islands. The rights of shareholders to take action against the directors, actions by minority shareholders and the fiduciary duties of our directors to us under Cayman Islands law are to a large extent governed by the common law of the Cayman Islands. The common law of the Cayman Islands is derived in part from comparatively limited judicial precedent in the Cayman Islands as well as from the common law of England, the decisions of whose courts are of persuasive authority, but are not binding, on a court in the Cayman Islands. The rights of our shareholders and the fiduciary duties of our directors under Cayman Islands law are not as clearly established as they would be under statutes or judicial precedent in some jurisdictions in the United States. In particular, the Cayman Islands has a less developed body of securities laws than the United States. Some U.S. states, such as Delaware, have more fully developed and judicially interpreted bodies of corporate law than the Cayman Islands. In addition, Cayman Islands companies may not have standing to initiate a shareholder derivative action in a federal court of the United States.

 

Shareholders of Cayman Islands exempted companies like us have no general rights under Cayman Islands law to inspect corporate records or to obtain copies of lists of shareholders of these companies. Our directors have discretion under our third amended and restated memorandum and articles of association to determine whether or not, and under what conditions, our corporate records may be inspected by our shareholders, but are not obliged to make them available to our shareholders. This may make it more difficult for you to obtain the information needed to establish any facts necessary for a shareholder resolution or to solicit proxies from other shareholders in connection with a proxy contest.

 

As a result of all of the above, our public shareholders may have more difficulty in protecting their interests in the face of actions taken by management, members of the board of directors or controlling shareholders than they would as public shareholders of a company incorporated in the United States.

 

Our dual class share structure with different voting rights limits your ability to influence corporate matters and could discourage others from pursuing any change of control transactions that holders of our Class A ordinary shares and the ADSs may view as beneficial.

 

We have a dual class share structure. As of December 31, 2023, our ordinary shares consist of 2,587,892,046,400 Class A ordinary shares and 250,000,000,000 Class B ordinary shares. In respect of matters requiring the votes of shareholders, holders of Class A ordinary shares are entitled to one vote per share, while holders of Class B ordinary shares are entitled to ten votes per share based on our dual class share structure. Each Class B ordinary share is convertible into one (1) Class A ordinary share at any time by the holder thereof, while Class A ordinary shares are not convertible into Class B ordinary shares under any circumstances. Upon any transfer of Class B ordinary shares by a holder thereof to any person or entity which is not an affiliate of such holder, such Class B ordinary shares shall be automatically and immediately converted into the equal number of Class A ordinary shares.

 

Golden Stream Ltd., a company controlled by Mr. Chengcai Qu, the Chief Executive Officer of the Group, beneficially owns all of our issued Class B ordinary shares, representing 8.8% of the total outstanding share capital and 49.1% of the voting power of the Company as of the date of this annual report, due to the disparate voting powers associated with our dual-class structure. The Class B ordinary shares held by Golden Stream Ltd. represent the maximum number of shares underlying the Company’s 2022 Plan. Golden Stream Ltd. and its controlling shareholder Mr. Chengcai Qu have agreed to act upon the instructions from a senior management committee of the Company, consisting of Chengcai Qu, Zhichen (Frank) Sun and Jiamin Chen determined on a unanimous basis in relation to the voting and, prior to the vesting of the shares to the relevant grantee of the share-based awards under the 2022 Plan, the disposition of these Class B ordinary shares. See “Item 6. Directors, Senior Management and Employees—B. Compensation” and Item 6. Directors, Senior Management and Employees—E. Share Ownership.

 

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As a result of the dual class share structure and the concentration of ownership, Golden Stream Ltd. and the senior management committee have considerable influence over matters such as decisions regarding change of directors, mergers, change of control transactions and other significant corporate actions. It may take actions that are not in the best interest of us or our other shareholders. This concentration of ownership may discourage, delay or prevent a change in control of our company, which could have the effect of depriving our other shareholders of the opportunity to receive a premium for their shares as part of a sale of our company and may reduce the price of the ADSs. This concentrated control limits your ability to influence corporate matters and could discourage others from pursuing any potential merger, takeover or other change of control transactions that holders of Class A ordinary shares and ADSs may view as beneficial. In addition, the significant concentration of share ownership may adversely affect the trading price of the ADSs due to investors’ perception that conflicts of interest may exist or arise.

 

Our memorandum and articles of association contain anti-takeover provisions that could discourage a third party from acquiring us and adversely affect the rights of holders of our ordinary shares and the ADSs.

 

Our third amended and restated memorandum and articles of association contain certain provisions that could limit the ability of others to acquire control of our company, including a provision that grants authority to our board of directors to establish and issue from time to time one or more series of preferred shares without action by our shareholders and to determine, with respect to any series of preferred shares, the terms and rights of that series. These provisions could have the effect of depriving our shareholders and ADS holders of the opportunity to sell their shares or ADSs at a premium over the prevailing market price by discouraging third parties from seeking to obtain control of our company in a tender offer or similar transactions.

 

We are an emerging growth company and may take advantage of certain reduced reporting requirements.

 

We are an “emerging growth company” as defined in the JOBS Act, and we may take advantage of certain exemptions from various requirements applicable to other public companies that are not emerging growth companies including, most significantly, not being required to comply with the auditor attestation requirements of Section 404 of Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 for so long as we are an emerging growth company. As a result, if we elect not to comply with such auditor attestation requirements, our investors may not have access to certain information they may deem important.

 

The JOBS Act also provides that an emerging growth company does not need to comply with any new or revised financial accounting standards until such date that a private company is otherwise required to comply with such new or revised accounting standards. In other words, an “emerging growth company” can delay the adoption of certain accounting standards until those standards would otherwise apply to private companies. We have elected to take advantage of the extended transition period. As a result of this election, our future financial statements may not be comparable to other public companies that comply with the public company effective dates for these new or revised accounting standards.

 

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We are a foreign private issuer within the meaning of the rules under the Exchange Act, and as such we are exempt from certain provisions applicable to U.S. domestic public companies.

 

Because we qualify as a foreign private issuer under the Exchange Act, we are exempt from certain provisions of the securities rules and regulations in the United States that are applicable to U.S. domestic issuers, including:

 

the rules under the Exchange Act requiring the filing with the SEC of quarterly reports on Form 10-Q or current reports on Form 8-K;

 

the sections of the Exchange Act regulating the solicitation of proxies, consents, or authorizations in respect of a security registered under the Exchange Act;

 

the sections of the Exchange Act requiring insiders to file public reports of their stock ownership and trading activities and liability for insiders who profit from trades made in a short period of time; and

 

the selective disclosure rules by issuers of material nonpublic information under Regulation FD.

 

We are required to file an annual report on Form 20-F within four months of the end of each financial year. In addition, we intend to publish our results on a quarterly basis as press releases, distributed pursuant to the rules and regulations of the NASDAQ Global Market. Press releases relating to financial results and material events will also be furnished to the SEC on Form 6-K. However, the information we are required to file with or furnish to the SEC will be less extensive and less timely compared to that required to be filed with the SEC by U.S. domestic issuers. As a result, you may not be afforded the same protections or information that would be made available to you were you investing in a U.S. domestic issuer.

 

As a company incorporated in the Cayman Islands, we are permitted to adopt certain home country practices in relation to corporate governance matters that differ significantly from the NASDAQ Global Market corporate governance listing standards; these practices may afford less protection to shareholders than they would enjoy if we complied fully with the NASDAQ Global Market corporate governance listing standards.

 

As a Cayman Islands company listed on the NASDAQ Global Market, we are subject to the NASDAQ Global Market corporate governance listing standards. However, NASDAQ Global Market rules permit a foreign private issuer like us to follow the corporate governance practices of its home country. Certain corporate governance practices in the Cayman Islands, which is our home country, may differ significantly from the NASDAQ Global Market corporate governance listing standards. Currently, we follow our home country practices and rely on certain exemptions provided by the NASDAQ Global Market corporate governance listing standards to a foreign private issuer, including exemptions from the requirements to have:

 

majority of independent directors on our board of directors;

 

a minimum of three members in our audit committee;

 

only independent directors being involved in the selection of director nominees and determination of executive officer compensation;

 

regularly scheduled executive sessions of independent directors;

 

a quorum of annual general meeting which is no less than 33 1/3% of our outstanding shares; and

 

shareholder approval prior to an issuance of securities in connection with (i) acquisition of the stock or assets of another company, (ii) change of control, (iii) equity compensation, and (iv) transactions other than public offerings.

 

As a result of our reliance on the corporate governance exemptions available to foreign private issuers, you do not have the same protection afforded to shareholders of companies that are subject to all of NASDAQ Global Market corporate governance listing standards.

 

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We believe it is likely that we would be a passive foreign investment company, or PFIC, for U.S. federal income tax purposes, which could subject U.S. investors in ADSs or Class A ordinary shares to significant adverse U.S. federal income tax consequences.

 

A non-U.S. corporation will be a passive foreign investment company, or PFIC, if, in any particular taxable year, either (a) 75% or more of its gross income for such year consists of certain types of “passive” income or (b) 50% or more of the value of its assets (generally determined on the basis of a quarterly average) is attributable to assets that produce or are held for the production of passive income. For this purpose, passive income generally includes dividends, interest, gains from certain commodities transactions, rents, royalties and the excess of gains over losses from the disposition of assets that produce passive income. However, rents derived in the active conduct of a trade or business and received from an unrelated party are considered active income for these purposes. Goodwill is treated as an active asset under the PFIC rules to the extent attributable to activities that produce active income. Cash generally is a passive asset for these purposes.

 

Based on the composition of our income and assets and the trading price of our ADSs or Class A ordinary shares, we believe it is likely that we were a PFIC for U.S. federal income tax purposes for our 2023 taxable year. Additionally, there is a significant risk that we will be a PFIC for our 2024 taxable year and in future taxable years. The determination of whether we are a PFIC must be made annually based on the facts and circumstances at that time.

 

If we are a PFIC in any taxable year, a U.S. Holder (as defined in “Item 10. Additional Information—E. Taxation—United States Federal Income Tax Considerations”) may incur significantly increased U.S. federal income tax on gain recognized on the sale or other disposition of the ADSs or Class A ordinary shares and on the receipt of distributions on the ADSs or Class A ordinary shares to the extent such gain or distribution is treated as an “excess distribution” under the federal income tax rules, and such U.S. Holder may be subject to burdensome reporting requirements. Further, if we are a PFIC for any year during which a U.S. Holder holds ADSs or Class A ordinary shares, we generally will continue to be treated as a PFIC for all subsequent years during which such U.S. Holder holds our ADSs or Class A ordinary shares unless we cease to be a PFIC and the U.S. Holder makes a special “purging” election on U.S. Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) Form 8621. If we were a PFIC in 2023 but cease to be a PFIC in 2024 or a later year, a U.S. Holder who held our Class A ordinary shares or ADSs in any year in which we were a PFIC should consider making the “purging” election described above. See “Item 10. Additional Information—E. Taxation—United States Federal Income Tax Considerations—Passive Foreign Investment Company Considerations” for more details. U.S. Holders should consult their own tax advisors regarding the U.S. federal income tax consequences of holding stock or ADSs in a PFIC.

 

We will incur increased costs as a result of being a public company, particularly after we cease to qualify as an “emerging growth company.”

 

As a public company, we have incurred and expect to continue to incur significant legal, accounting and other expenses that we did not incur as a private company. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, as well as rules subsequently implemented by the SEC and the NASDAQ Global Market, impose various requirements on the corporate governance practices of public companies. A company qualifies as an emerging growth company if it has total annual gross revenues of less than $1.235 billion during its most recently completed fiscal year. A company continues to be an emerging growth company for the first five fiscal years after it completes an IPO, unless (i) its total annual gross revenues are $1.235 billion or more; (ii) it has issued more than $1 billion in non-convertible debt in the past three years; or (iii) it becomes a “large accelerated filer”. We qualify as an “emerging growth company” pursuant to the JOBS Act. An emerging growth company may take advantage of specified reduced reporting and other requirements that are otherwise applicable generally to public companies. These provisions include exemption from the auditor attestation requirement under Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 in the assessment of the emerging growth company’s internal control over financial reporting and permission to delay adopting new or revised accounting standards until such time as those standards apply to private companies.

 

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We expect these rules and regulations to increase our legal and financial compliance costs and to make some corporate activities more time-consuming and costly. After we are no longer an “emerging growth company,” we expect to incur significant expenses and devote substantial management effort toward ensuring compliance with the requirements of Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 and the other rules and regulations of the SEC. For example, as a result of becoming a public company, we will need to increase the number of independent directors and adopt policies regarding internal controls and disclosure controls and procedures. We also expect that operating as a public company will make it more difficult and more expensive for us to obtain director and officer liability insurance, and we may be required to accept reduced policy limits and coverage or incur substantially higher costs to obtain the same or similar coverage. In addition, we will incur additional costs associated with our public company reporting requirements. It may also be more difficult for us to find qualified persons to serve on our board of directors or as executive officers. We are currently evaluating and monitoring developments with respect to these rules and regulations, and we cannot predict or estimate with any degree of certainty the amount of additional costs we may incur or the timing of such costs.

 

In the past, shareholders of a public company often brought securities class action suits against the company following periods of instability in the market price of that company’s securities. If we were involved in a class action suit, it could divert a significant amount of our management’s attention and other resources from our business and operations, which could harm our results of operations and require us to incur significant expenses to defend the suit. Any such class action suit, whether or not successful, could harm our reputation and restrict our ability to raise capital in the future. In addition, if a claim is successfully made against us, we may be required to pay significant damages, which could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.

 

ITEM 4. INFORMATION ON THE COMPANY

 

A. History and Development of the Company

 

We began our operation through Qingke Fashion Life Service Co., Ltd., or Q&K Fashion, which was established on November 8, 2007 by certain individuals related to our founder and former chief executive officer, Mr. Guangjie Jin, who transferred all voting rights to Mr. Guangjie Jin by proxy agreements. We substantially commenced our apartment rental business in 2012. During the period from 2007 to 2014, Q&K Fashion undertook several rounds of equity financing in the PRC. Mr. Guangjie Jin held more than 50% controlling interests over Q&K Fashion since the date of its incorporation.

 

On August 2, 2013, Q&K Fashion incorporated Shanghai Qingke E commerce Co., Ltd, or Q&K E-commerce. On March 17, 2015, Q&K E-commerce incorporated Shanghai Qingke Equipment Rental Co., Ltd., or Q&K Equipment Rental. From 2013 to 2015, Q&K Fashion transferred all of its shareholding over Q&K E-commerce to several investors and our founder and former chief executive officer, Mr. Guangjie Jin, allowing the latter to obtain control through majority equity ownership.

 

To facilitate financing and offshore listing, we underwent a series of reorganization, or the Reorganization as follows. We incorporated Q&K International Group Limited in the Cayman Islands as our offshore holding company in August 2014.

 

On November 5, 2019, our ADSs commenced trading on the Nasdaq under the symbol “QK.” We raised from our initial public offering, after underwriters exercised their over-allotment option in full, approximately US$44.5 million in net proceeds after deducting underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us.

 

We changed our company name from “Q&K International Group Limited” to “FLJ Group Limited”, effective on September 13, 2022. In addition, our ADSs began trading under the new ticker symbol “FLJ” on the NASDAQ effective on September 26, 2022.

 

On September 18, 2023, our authorized share capital was changed to US$1,000,000 divided into 10,000,000,000,000 shares of a nominal or par value of US$0.0000001 each, of which 8,500,000,000,000 were designated as Class A Ordinary Shares of a nominal or par value of US$0.0000001 each, 1,000,000,000,000 were designated as Class B Ordinary Shares of a nominal or par value of US$0.0000001 each, and 500,000,000,000 were designated as Preferred Shares of a nominal or par value of US$0.0000001 each (the “Share Split”). In connection with such Share Split, the ratio of ADSs representing our Class A ordinary shares was correspondingly adjusted from one (1) ADS representing one hundred and fifty (150) Class A ordinary share to one (1) ADS representing fifteen thousand (15,000) Class A ordinary shares.

 

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On October 31, 2023, we entered into an equity transfer agreement to sell all of our equity interest in Haoju (Shanghai) Artificial Intelligence Technology Co., Ltd. (“Haoju”), a limited company incorporated under the laws of PRC, which was our indirect wholly-owned subsidiary prior to the disposition, to Wangxiancai Limited for nominal consideration (the “Disposal”). The Disposal was made at nominal consideration because Haoju and its subsidiaries were loss-making and had net liabilities and the possibility that it would generate cash flow in the future was minimal considering (i) decreasing demand for long-term rental apartments in areas it operated due to population outflow from these areas; and (ii) increasing operating costs as a percentage of revenue as it had incurred certain fixed costs and experienced decreasing revenue streams. The Disposed Business had been incurring losses from operations. Our accumulated deficits amounted to RMB3,558.7 million and RMB3,630.0 million (US$497.5 million) as of September 30, 2022 and 2023, respectively. Net cash used in operating activities from continuing operations were RMB 161.4 million, RMB 7.1 million and RMB 24.3 million for FY 2021, FY 2022 and FY 2023, respectively. As of September 30, 2022 and 2023, our current liabilities exceeded current assets by RMB 597.2 million and RMB 643.4 million, respectively. These factors had raised substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern. Haoju holds substantially all of the equity interest of our subsidiaries in the PRC, through which we carried out long-term apartment rental business (the “Disposed Business”). The Disposed Business contributed substantially all revenue and held substantially all of our assets prior to the Disposal. The Disposal was consummated on October 31, 2023.

 

On November 22, 2023, we entered into an equity acquisition agreement with Alpha Mind, an insurance agency and insurance technology business in the PRC, and Alpha Mind’s then shareholders to acquire all of the issued and outstanding shares in Alpha Mind for an aggregate purchase price of US$180,000,000 (the “Acquisition”). The purchase price is payable in the form of promissory note (collectively, the “Notes”). The Notes have a maturity of 90 days from the closing date, which was subsequently extended to June 30, 2024, an interest rate at an annual rate to 3% per annum and will be secured by all of the issued and outstanding equity of the Alpha Mind and all of the assets of the Alpha Mind, including its consolidated entities. We have been exploring financing opportunities with certain Asia-based investors who are not U.S. persons and who are not affiliated to us or the Current VIEs. The financing may involve equity-based instruments, including convertible debt. However, the terms and conditions are still under negotiation and there are uncertainties whether we can close the financing on favorable terms and in a timely manner or at all. In the event that we fail to repay the promissory notes within the extended maturity date, i.e. June 30, 2024, the noteholders may exercise their collateral rights in which case we will lose control and will no longer be able to consolidate the results of operation of Alpha Mind. For more details, see “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors—Risks Related to our Business and Industry— If we are unable to repay or refinance the Notes, we will lose control and will no longer be able to consolidate the results of operation of Alpha Mind. In addition, our level of indebtedness could adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.” The Acquisition was completed on December 28, 2023, upon which Alpha Mind become our wholly-owned subsidiary and we assumed and began conducting the principal business of Alpha Mind.

 

Effective on December 7, 2023, we adjusted the ratio of ADS from one (1) ADS representing fifteen thousand (15,000) Class A ordinary shares to one (1) ADS representing six hundred thousand (600,000) Class A ordinary shares.

 

See “Item 4.C. Information on the Company—Organizational Structure” for a diagram illustrating our corporate structure upon consummation of the Acquisition and as of the date of this annual report.

 

Our principal executive offices are located at Room 1610, No.917, East Longhua Road, Huangpu District, Shanghai, 200023, People’s Republic of China. Our telephone number at this address is + 86-21-6422-8532. Our registered office in the Cayman Islands is located at Cricket Square, Hutchins Drive, P.O. Box 2681, Grand Cayman KY1 1111, Cayman Islands.

 

Investors should submit any inquiries to the address and telephone number of our principal executive offices. Our main website is ir.fenglinju.cn. The information contained on our website is not a part of this annual report.

 

SEC maintains an internet site (http://www.sec.gov), which contains reports, proxy and information statements, and other information regarding us that file electronically with the SEC.

 

B. Business Overview

 

Disposed Business

 

During the reporting period, we were a technology-driven long-term apartment rental platform in China, offering young, emerging urban residents conveniently located, ready to move in, and affordable branded apartments as well as facilitating a variety of value-added services. We were one of the pioneers in providing branded rental apartments in China. Under our dispersed lease-and-operate model, we leased apartments from landlords and transform these apartments, mostly from bare-bones condition, into standardized furnished rooms to lease to people seeking affordable residence in cities, following an efficient, technology-driven business process. Our net revenues from Disposed Business primarily consist of rental service revenues, and revenue from various types of fees we charge our tenants for some of our value-added service. Our period-average occupancy rates was 88.1% in FY 2023.

 

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On October 31, 2023, we sold all of the equity interest in Haoju to Wangxiancai Limited, a limited company incorporated under the laws of Hong Kong for nominal consideration. As a result of the Disposal, we no longer conducts the long-term apartment rental business as of the date of this annual report and the results of our disposed long-term apartment rental business are accounted as discontinued operations.

 

For more details on our Disposed Business, please refer to “Item 4. Information on the Company – B. Business Overview” in our Form 20-F for FY 2022 (file No. 001-39111) filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on January 23, 2023).

 

Current Business

 

We acquired Alpha Mind, an insurance agency and insurance technology business in the PRC, on December 28, 2023. Alpha Mind conducts its insurance agency and insurance technology businesses in the PRC through the Current WFOE and Current VIEs.

 

As of the date of this annual report, we, through the Current VIEs, conduct professional insurance agency business which provides a wide variety of insurance products underwritten by major insurance companies, including industry leading and/or state-owned property and casualty insurance companies as well as certain regional property and casualty insurance companies in China. Through the Current VIEs, we hold the insurance agent operating license which is required under applicable PRC laws to conduct insurance agency business in China. As an insurance agency, we are not involved in underwriting insurance policies. We are committed to providing insurance purchasers with comprehensive services, spanning from application to claim settlement, through our professional and dedicated approach. We have accumulated substantial expertise and successfully expanded our insurance product portfolio to encompass a wide range of offerings. These include life, health, group accident, and various other property-related insurances. Leveraging the growing ubiquity of mobile internet, Alpha Mind introduced the SaaS platform in 2023. This technological advancement has streamlined and popularized our insurance agency business, enhancing accessibility and convenience for our customers.

 

Our role as an insurance agent is mainly to facilitate insurance companies to promote market penetration of their products through our extensive nationwide sales network. Insurance companies may leverage our marketing network to promote their products with cost efficiency rather than having to build a marketing network of their own. With respect to end customers, or insurance purchasers, our sales representatives are able to leverage their professional knowledge and experience to advise and recommend the most suitable insurance products and efficiently complete the contract signing process as well as assist them with claim applications.

 

With our solid foundation and unwavering commitment to excellence, we are confident in our ability to capitalize thriving Chinese insurance agency market. In 2023, we were ranked 30 among the top 100 insurance intermediaries in China and were ranked third in Tianjin region, in terms of insurance premium facilitated. We, through the Current VIEs, are principally engaged in the insurance agency business primarily through a “Business to Business to Consumer,” or B2B2C, model. We offer a wide variety of insurance products underwritten by major insurance companies in China, including industry leading and/or state-owned property and casualty insurance companies as well as certain regional property and casualty insurance companies in China, to insurance purchasers and generate revenue from commissions from these insurance companies, typically based on a percentage of the premium paid by insurance purchasers. In 2021 and 2022 and 2023, Alpha Mind sold more than 799,444, 4,162,277 and 13,687,786 insurance policies with an aggregate premium of approximately RMB1,883.9 million, RMB2,170.6 million and RMB2,139.0 million, respectively.

 

Alpha Mind sells insurance policies primarily through a network of external referral sources, which comprised more than 805 external registered sales representatives and 197 strategic channel partners as of December 31, 2023, as well as through the in-house sales force. As of December 31, 2023, Alpha Mind had branch coverage in 18 cities in 11 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities in China and had established collaborative relationships with 47 insurance companies and approximately 150 of their branches in China.

 

Alpha Mind primarily operate in China’s insurance market. According to CBIRC, the total insurance premium in China reached approximately RMB4.7 trillion in 2022, increased by 4.6% from approximately RMB4.5 trillion in 2021. The insurance premium from property related insurance reached approximately RMB1.3 trillion in 2022, increased by 8.9% from approximately RMB1.2 trillion in 2021. We expect the growth of China’s insurance market to continue, and the competition among insurance agencies to intensify.

 

For the risks associated with being based in or having the majority of our operations in China, see “Part I—Risks Associated with Being Based in or Having the Majority of the Operations in China.” For the risks associated with the HFCA Act, see “Part I—Risks Associated with the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act.”

 

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Our Insurance Agency Business

 

We specialized in distributing automobile insurance policies at the earlier stage of our business and subsequently expanded our insurance product portfolio to include other types of insurance including life, health, group accident and other property related insurances. In 2023, insurance premium from property related insurance accounted for approximately 97.7% of the total insurance premium from Alpha Mind’s insurance policies sold.

 

We typically do not collect, hold or refer any insurance premiums to or on behalf of the insurance companies. The insurance premium typically will be paid directly by the insurance purchasers to the insurance companies, and the insurance companies will pay us the commission within a specified period after their receipt of the insurance premium. After an insurance policy takes effect, we communicate and coordinate with insurance purchasers and insurance companies to serve their respective needs. As we do not underwrite insurance policies, the insurance purchasers or policy holders do not have any direct recourse with us for insurance claims as the insurance contract is entered into directly between the policy holders and the insurance companies, we only play the role of facilitating the claim process.

 

We generate revenue from our insurance agency business primarily through collecting commissions from insurance companies for successful sales of their insurance products, which are typically based on a percentage of the premium paid by insurance policy purchasers. The commission rates are typically set by insurance companies and vary for different product types, different insurance companies and different geographic regions in which the insurance products are sold. The commission rates are also subject to adjustments by insurance companies from time to time based on their expectation on profits, consumer demand for insurance products in the market, the availability and pricing of comparable products from other insurance companies, regulatory requirements and governmental policies, and other factors that affect insurance companies at the relevant time. In this connection, the average commission rates also varied between different cities in which we operate our insurance agency business, and in 2021, 2022 and 2023, Alpha Mind’s by-city average commission rates ranged from 11% to 32%, 11% to 34% and 9% to 33%, respectively, while its overall average commission rate was 16%, 16% and 14%, respectively.

 

Our SaaS Platform

 

In 2023, capitalizing on the growing prevalence of mobile internet, Alpha Mind introduced a SaaS platform to enhance its insurance agency business. The implementation of our SaaS platform has allowed us to offer more comprehensive services and expand our reach from offline to online customers. We continue to refine the functions of this platform to suit the needs of the insurance agency business. We believe this platform has several key advantages that further augment our services:

 

Insurance product front – The SaaS platform seamlessly connects with insurance companies’ system, granting us access to their extensive product offering database. This capability enhances our capability to identify and recommend the most suitable insurance product based on the specific needs of end customers.

 

  Sales front – Through the SaaS platform, individuals aspiring to become insurance agents can easily submit their applications to us. This streamlined process enables us to expand our sales team while minimizing costs.

 

  Training front – Our SaaS platform offers a wide range of comprehensive online training courses to the insurance agents. This valuable resource helps enhance their technical expertise and sales acumen, ultimately improving their overall performance.

 

  End customer front – The SaaS platform provides our end customers with a host of support services, including round-the-clock online customer service and efficient claim settlement assistance. The SaaS Platform is able to streamline the insurance claiming process by enabling direct connections between customers and insurance companies. In addition, we also provide assistance to customers in preparing the required documentation, ensuring a simplified process when filing insurance claims. Such claims settlement assistance service enables the end customers to receive claims in a more convenient and efficient manner. Additionally, it helps us to identify and target potential customers, enabling us to channel our sales efforts more effectively.

 

The SaaS platform serves principally as a backstage management system to facilitate the process of the insurance agency business. The targeted users of the SaaS platform are primarily insurance agents. Through this SaaS platform, insurance agents are able to help end-customers to access insurance companies’ platform which streamlines the process of signing insurance policies with the insurance companies online. The main features of the SaaS platform include:

 

Personnel management – The SaaS platform allows us to store and manage basic information of contracted insurance agents and provide various online trainings to them. It also allows us to manage contracts with the insurance agents.

 

Financial management – The SaaS platform has features that allow us to monitor and manage the settlement of commission fees with the insurance companies in an organized manner.

 

Business management – The SaaS platform allows us to manage and store the information of various insurance products we are authorized by various insurance companies to sell. This allows our contracted insurance agents to timely retrieve the information regarding the insurance products when they are serving potential insurance purchasers. It also supports features such as online contracting, customer management and insurance plan management.

 

Potential insurance agents who seek to work with us can submit online application through a gateway WeChat mini program. We will then review their application and determine if they meet our criteria. Once they become our contracted insurance agents, they will be able to access resources and features on the SaaS platform. Currently the insurance agents are not required to pay to access the features of the SaaS platform. As of the date of this annual report, we have yet to have any registered user on the platform as we are still test-running the platform.

 

Our Insurance Products

 

We primarily offer automobile insurance and other property related insurance products underwritten by major insurance companies in China.

 

In 2021, 2022 and 2023, Alpha Mind sold 799,444, 4,162,277 and 13,687,786 insurance policies of various insurance companies, respectively. Our insurance policies generally have a term of one to two years. These policies are underwritten by insurance companies directly, and we are not a party to the insurance policy or other agreements with the purchasers of the policies.

 

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Our Referral System

 

Our insurance agency business has developed a referral system that relies on the external registered sales representatives (i.e., insurance agents), distribution channel partners, and our in-house sales force.

 

Our registered sales representatives are qualified salespersons who have completed the necessary registration process through our WeChat mini program or offline offices. Working in collaboration, we share the commission generated from the sales of insurance products. By engaging these registered sales representatives, we can enhance our sales capabilities and ensure a wider reach for our insurance offerings.

 

Our distribution channel partners are non-insurance companies, including auto dealerships. For example, when these dealerships sell cars to their customers, they also introduce our insurance products as a part of the car purchasing process. This strategic collaboration allows us to establish a network of potential customers who are in need of insurance coverage for their newly purchased vehicles. By maintaining relationship between the auto dealerships and their customers, we can effectively promote our insurance products to more customers.

 

According to the agreements we entered into with distribution channel partners, the suppliers are authorized to introduce our insurance products to their customers as part of the referral process. These agreements also outline the service fees that will be charged for their referral services. In addition, the confidentiality clauses also include terms to protect customer information and maintain privacy of both parties involved. The agreements further specify the duration of the cooperation and any provisions for renewal or termination, ensuring flexibility to accommodate parties’ business needs.

 

Our in-house sales team is responsible for promoting and selling the insurance products directly to customers. Our in-house sales team establishes close relationships with customers, providing personalized guidance and support throughout the sales process. We continuously equip our sales team with latest industry knowledge and sales techniques, ensuring they are capable to meet the evolving needs and preferences of our customers.

 

Our Business Partners

 

We cooperate with a variety of business partners in conducting our businesses, including customers and suppliers in our insurance agency business.

 

Our customers for the insurance agency business are major insurance companies in China, which we consider as our insurance company partners. As of December 31, 2023, we had established business relationships with 47 insurance companies. These companies include industry leading and/or state-owned property and casualty insurance companies as well as certain regional property and casualty insurance companies in China.

 

We conduct regular visits to, and organize periodic marketing events for insurance companies, including their headquarters and their branches in different regions, to promote our insurance agency services and introduce our business model and the functionalities of our SaaS platform, particularly on how they facilitate end consumers reach, user experience and transaction efficiency. Our senior management and marketing department at headquarters maintain close communications with the headquarters of major insurance companies. We also invite insurance companies to visit our headquarters and branches to demonstrate our business operations, flows and strengths.

 

Our suppliers primarily include external referral sources which we consider as our distribution channel partners. As of December 31, 2023, we had established business relationships with 197 distribution channel partners.

 

We engage external referral sources in different geographic locations of various types of businesses. We select our external referral sources based on various criteria, including their reputation, consumer flows, industry experience, operational track record and previous relationship with us. We require our external referral sources to obtain necessary licenses and certificates required to conduct their relevant business. See “—B. Business Overview— Our Referral System” for more details.

 

Our End Customers

 

We sell the insurance products primarily to individual end consumers. We are not a party to the insurance policies underwritten by insurance companies, and generally do not enter into any agreements with our end consumers. We actively promote insurance products we carry to end consumers. Through our marketing network, we contact potential end consumers with our target demographics on a regular basis. We also keep track of our end consumers who bought insurance products from us.

 

Sales and Marketing

 

We focus our marketing efforts on engaging insurance companies, sales channel partners and end customers. We have a dedicated marketing team at our headquarters, which formulates and executes our overall sales, marketing and branding strategies.

 

Our service personnel at local branches visit our insurance company partners regularly to promote our services and products and hold educational seminars and networking events to attract end customers and build our brand recognition. We also promote our products and services by attending conferences and industry exhibitions and through word-of-mouth referrals. We also utilize targeted advertisement placements on the Internet and social media platforms to increase brand exposure, build trust among potential end customers and improve end customer conversion.

 

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Competition

 

We face competition principally from other insurance agency companies and insurance companies in China, including:

 

  large or regional insurance agency companies providing property and casualty or life insurance products;
     
  online insurance agency platforms;
     
  insurance companies’ direct online sales platforms;
     
  insurance companies distributing products by in-house sales force; and
     
  business entities distributing insurance products on an ancillary basis.

 

These competitors may vary in terms of their size, business model, technological capabilities, and the range of insurance products they offer. We may face new competition as we introduce new services, as our existing services evolve, or as other companies introduce new services.

 

While the insurance agency industry is evolving rapidly and is becoming increasingly competitive, we believe that we compete favorably because of our strong technology and infrastructure capabilities, deep connections with insurance companies and strong marketing capabilities.

 

Intellectual Property

 

We seek to protect our intellectual property through a combination of patent protection, copyrights, trademarks, service marks, domain names, trade secret laws, confidentiality procedures and contractual restrictions.

 

As of the date of this annual report, we had one copyright, one domain name and one trademark registered in China. Our intellectual properties are complementary and indispensable to each other to form the basis of our services and solutions and our operational systems. We intend to file additional intellectual property applications as we continue to innovate through our research and development efforts, and to pursue additional intellectual property protection to the extent we deem it beneficial and cost-effective.

 

We enter into confidentiality agreements with our key employees. In addition, the cooperation agreements that we enter into with our business partners include confidentiality provisions.

 

For additional information about our intellectual property and associated risks, see “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors—Risks Related to Our Business and Industry— We may be subject to intellectual property infringement claims or other allegations by third parties, which may materially and adversely affect our business, results of operations and prospects.”

 

Seasonality

 

We generally experience a lower transaction volume for our insurance agency business during the first quarter of a given year due to holiday seasons in China, and remain relatively stable for the remaining threequarters of the year.

 

Regulations

 

We operate in an increasingly complex legal and regulatory environment. We are subject to a variety of PRC and foreign laws, rules and regulations across numerous aspects of our business. This section sets forth a summary of the principal PRC laws, rules and regulations relevant to our business and operations in the PRC.

 

Regulation of Insurance Agencies

 

The principal regulation governing professional insurance agencies is the Provisions on the Regulation of Insurance Agencies, effective from January 1, 2021. The Provisions on the Regulation of Insurance Agencies regulate market access, operating rules, market exit, monitoring and inspection, and legal obligations for insurance agencies.

 

According to the Provisions on the Regulation of Insurance Agencies, “insurance agencies” refers to organizations or individuals that are entrusted by an insurance company and collect commissions from the insurance company to handle the insurance business on an agency basis within the scope authorized by the insurance company, including professional insurance agencies, sideline insurance agencies and individual insurance agents.

 

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To establish a professional insurance agency, the minimum registered capital depends on its business region. For professional insurance agencies whose business regions are not limited to the province, autonomous region, municipality directly under the central government, or city specifically designated in the state plan where they are registered, the minimum registered capital should be RMB50 million, while for those operating within the province, autonomous region, municipality directly under the central government, or city specifically designated in the state plan where they are registered, the minimum registered capital should be RMB20 million. The registered capital of a professional insurance agency must be paid-in monetary capital. An insurance professional agency must obtain an Insurance Agent Operating License.

 

A professional insurance agency may engage in the following insurance agency businesses:

 

selling insurance products on behalf of the insurer principal;

 

collecting insurance premiums on behalf of the insurer principal;

 

conducting loss surveys and handling claims of insurance businesses on behalf of the insurer principal; and

 

other business activities specified by the CBIRC.

 

According to the Notice to Overhaul Chaotic Auto Insurance Market (the “Overhaul Notice”), promulgated by the CBIRC on July 6, 2017, all property insurance companies must intensify their compliance management and control of vehicle insurance intermediary businesses, and comply with authorization and management responsibilities applicable to intermediaries and individuals. Property insurance companies may not entrust any institution without lawful qualification to conduct insurance sale activities, or pay vehicle insurance service charges to unqualified institutions, directly or in a disguised way.

 

Property insurance companies may not entrust or permit any cooperative intermediary to delegate vehicle insurance agency rights to any other institution. A property insurance company may entrust a third-party internet platform to provide webpage-linking services, but may not entrust or permit any third-party internet platform without a lawful qualification as an insurance intermediary to engage in insurance sale activities on its website, including trial calculations of insurance premiums, price quotations and comparisons, business promotions and fund payments.

 

Property insurance companies must submit for approval of the terms and premium ratios for vehicle insurance. Any property insurance company, insurance intermediary or individual may not grant or undertake to grant benefits not specified in an insurance contract to the policyholder or the insured, including by returning cash or providing prepaid cards, negotiable securities, insurance products, coupons or other property, or offsetting premiums by reward points or exchanging reward points for goods. Property insurance companies, insurance intermediaries or individuals may not pay interest or benefits not specified in an insurance contract in a disguised way such as by allowing the insured to participate in a promotional campaign organized by any other institution or individual.

 

According to the Guiding Opinions on Implementation of the Comprehensive Reform of Vehicle Insurance promulgated by the CBIRC on September 2, 2020, insurance companies and intermediaries will be under simultaneous investigation and handling in the vehicle insurance field, to severely crack down on the illegal acts such as obtaining service charges by fabricating intermediary business, issuing false invoices and bundled sales. In addition, it is imperative to promote insurance companies and intermediaries to improve the connection of information systems, to regulate the settlement and payment of service charges, and prohibit the advance payment by sales personnel. Insurance intermediaries are prohibited from carrying out non-local vehicle insurance business.

 

In September 2023, the National Financial Regulatory Administration promulgated the Measures for the Administration of Insurance Sales Activities, which will come into force on March 1, 2024. These Measures categorizes insurance sales activities of insurance companies and insurance intermediaries, including insurance agency companies, into three phases namely pre-sales, in-sales, and post-sales activities, setting forth varied regulatory requirements on insurance sales activities in the phases of pre-sales, in-sales, and post-sales activities.

 

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Qualification Management for Practitioners of Insurance Agencies

 

Based on the Provisions on the Regulation of Insurance Agencies, the CBIRC is authorized by law and the State Council to exercise centralized supervision and administration competence over practitioners of insurance agencies by category. Under the Provisions on the Regulation of Insurance Agencies, the term “practitioners of insurance agencies” refers to individuals of insurance agencies who engage in sale of insurance products or the relevant loss survey.

 

Based on the Provisions on the Regulation of Insurance Agencies, the Circular of the China Insurance Regulatory Commission on Issues concerning the Administration of Insurance Intermediary Practitioners promulgated by the CBIRC on August 3, 2015 and Notice on Cancelling and Adjusting a Group of Administrative Approval Items promulgated by the CBIRC on August 7, 2015, prior to practice of practitioners of insurance agencies, the employer should file practice registration information for such personnel on the CBIRC insurance intermediaries monitoring information system, without requiring a qualification certificate as a prerequisite for practice registration management.

 

Professional insurance agencies, including us, are obligated to monitor the sales activities of the salespersons and restrict and prohibit the misconduct of such insurance sales practitioners employed by or cooperated with such professional insurance agencies. Any failure to do so may result in rectification orders, penalties or fines to the practitioners of insurance agencies and the professional insurance agencies themselves.

 

Regulation of Internet Insurance

 

On December 7, 2020, CBIRC issued Measures for the Regulation of Internet Insurance Businesses (the “Internet Insurance Measures”). Pursuant to the Internet Insurance Measures, no institutions or individuals other than insurance institutions, which refer to insurance companies, insurance agency companies, insurance brokerage companies and other qualified insurance intermediaries, may engage in the internet insurance business. Under the Internet Insurance Measures, an insurance institution may sell insurance products or provide insurance brokerage services via the Internet and self-service terminal equipment, so that consumers can independently learn the product information and complete insurance purchase on their own through such insurance institution’s self-operated network platform or the self-run network platforms of other insurance institutions. However, the insurance application pages must belong to the self-run network platform of such insurance institution. “Self-operated online platforms” refer to online platforms set up by insurance institutions with independent operation and complete data authority. Self-operated online platforms shall effectively isolate from its affiliated parties such as shareholders, actual controllers and senior executives of the company in such aspects as finance, business, information system and customer information protection etc.

 

An insurance institution conducting Internet insurance businesses and its self-operated network platform shall meet the following conditions:

 

the place of service access is within the territory of the PRC;

 

it shall meet the provisions of the relevant laws and regulations and the qualification requirements of the competent authority of the relevant industry;

 

it shall have an information management system and core business system supporting the operation of Internet insurance businesses, which shall be effectively isolated from other irrelevant information systems of the insurance institution;

 

it shall have sound cybersecurity monitoring, information notification and emergency response mechanisms, as well as sound cybersecurity protection means such as boundary protection, intrusion detection, data protection and disaster recovery;

 

it shall implement the national graded protection system for cybersecurity, carry out record-filing of the grading of cybersecurity, regularly carry out graded protection assessment, and implement security protection measures for the corresponding grades;

 

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it shall have a legal and compliant marketing model and establish an operation and service system that meets the operation needs of Internet insurance, meets the characteristics of Internet insurance users and supports the service coverage regions;

 

it shall establish or specify an Internet insurance business management department, equip itself with corresponding professionals, designate a senior executive to serve as the person in charge of Internet insurance businesses, and specify the persons in charge of the self-run network platforms respectively;

 

it shall have a sound management system and operating procedures for Internet insurance businesses;

 

an insurance company shall, in carrying out Internet insurance sales, comply with the relevant provisions of the CBIRC on the regulatory evaluation for solvency and protection of consumers’ rights and interests;

 

a professional insurance intermediary shall be a national agency, and its business regions are not limited to the province where its head office is registered, and shall comply with the relevant provisions of the CBIRC on the classified regulation of professional insurance intermediaries; and

 

it shall meet other conditions prescribed by the CBIRC.

 

According to the Internet Insurance Measures, “Internet insurances companies” can be established upon special approval by the CBIRC and registered in accordance with the law without establishing branches and specialize in carrying out Internet insurance business nationwide in order to promote the integration and innovation of insurance business with the Internet, big data and other new technologies. An Internet insurance company shall not sell insurance products offline or through other insurance institutions.

 

In addition, an Internet enterprise is allowed to use the self-operated network platform to sell Internet insurance products and provide insurance services as an insurance agent, provided that such Internet enterprise shall obtain the insurance agency operating license for operating insurance agency business.

 

Non-insurance institutions may not carry out Internet insurance business, including but not limited to the following commercial acts: (i) providing consulting services for insurance products; (ii) comparing insurance products, trial calculation of insurance premiums and comparing quotations; (iii) designing insurance purchase plans for insurance applicants; (iv) going through insurance purchase formalities on behalf of clients; and (v) collecting insurance premiums as an agent.

 

The Internet Insurance Measures provides that the CBIRC and its local offices are responsible for the development of the regulatory system for Internet insurance business in an overall manner, and the CBIRC and its local offices shall, in accordance with the division of regulatory work for insurance institutions, implement daily monitoring and regulation of Internet insurance business.

 

Regulation of Services Provided by Professional Insurance Agency and Its Practitioners

 

Based on the Provisions on the Regulation of Insurance Agencies, professional insurance agencies and practitioners may not take the following deceptive actions in insurance agency activities:

 

deceiving the insurer, applicant, the insured or beneficiary;

 

concealing important information relating to the insurance contract;

 

obstructing the applicant to perform his/her obligation of disclosure, or inducing him/her not to perform his/her obligation of disclosure;

 

giving or promising to give the applicant, the insured or the beneficiary benefits other than those stipulated in the insurance contract;

 

coercing, inducing or restricting the applicant to enter into an insurance contract by taking advantage of his/her administrative power, position or the advantage of his/her occupation or by other unfair means;

 

forging or altering an insurance contract without authorization, or providing false supporting materials for the parties to an insurance contract;

 

misappropriating, withholding or occupying insurance premiums or insurance benefits;

 

seeking improper benefits for other institutions or individuals by taking advantage of his/her business;

 

defrauding the insurance benefits by colluding with the applicant, the insured or beneficiary; or

 

disclosing business secrets of the insurer, the applicant or the insured known in the business activities.

 

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A professional insurance agency may not sign insurance contracts on behalf of a contributor. On April 2, 2019, the CBIRC issued a Notice to Rectify the Irregularities in the Insurance Intermediary Market (the “Rectify Notice”), requiring all insurance companies and insurance intermediaries to conduct self-inspections to determine whether their practices violate relevant regulations.

 

According to the Rectify Notice, among other matters, insurance intermediaries and insurance agencies must rectify any non-compliance practices, such as granting or undertaking to grant policyholders, insured parties or beneficiaries benefits other than those agreed in the insurance contracts, failure to register the sales persons engaged by the insurance intermediaries with the CBIRC’s Insurance Intermediaries Regulatory Information System, or hiring sales person with bad conduct or who do not have professional knowledge necessary for insurance sales. As of the date this proxy statement/prospectus, CCT has completed the applicable rectification measures.

 

On June 23, 2020, the CBIRC further issued the Notice to Follow-up Review of the Rectification of Market Chaos in Banking and Insurance Industries (the “Review Notice”), requiring all banking and insurance institutions to carry out strict self-examination and self-rectification. According to the Review Notice, among other matters, insurance companies and insurance intermediaries must rectify any non-compliance practices, such as misleading consumers to buy insurance products by making false publicity on the grounds that the sales of insurance products are about to be stopped or the premium rates are about to be adjusted, maliciously misleading or instigating clients to cancel insurance policies, making consumers suffer from unnecessary losses of contractual rights and interests, or disclosing client information in violation of regulations. CCT has completed the self-examination and self-rectification work and reported the same to the CBIRC.

 

Regulations Relating to Foreign Investment

 

Companies established and operating in the PRC shall be subject to the Company Law of the PRC, or the PRC Company Law, which was promulgated on December 29, 1993 and newly amended on December 28, 2013 and October 26, 2018. The PRC Company Law provides general regulations for companies set up and operating in the PRC, including foreign-invested companies. Unless otherwise provided in the PRC foreign investment laws, the provisions in the PRC Company Law shall prevail.

 

Investments in the PRC by foreign investors and foreign-invested enterprises are regulated by the Special Administrative Measures (Negative List) for the Access of Foreign Investment, or the Negative List, the latest version of which was promulgated by the NDRC and the PRC Ministry of Commerce, or the MOFCOM on June 23, 2020 and became effective as of July 23, 2020 and Catalogue of Industries for Encouraging Foreign Investment, or the Encouraging Catalogue, the latest version of which was promulgated by the NDRC and the MOFCOM on December 27, 2020 and became effective as of January 27, 2021. The Negative List and the Encouraging Catalogue jointly categorize the industries into three categories: encouraged industries, restricted industries and prohibited industries. Establishment of wholly foreign-owned enterprises is generally allowed in industries outside of the Negative List. For the restricted industries within the Negative List, some are limited to equity or contractual joint ventures, while in some cases Chinese partners are required to hold the majority interests in such joint ventures. Foreign investors are not allowed to invest in industries in the Negative List. Industries not listed in the Negative List are generally open to foreign investment unless specifically restricted by other applicable PRC regulations. The Negative List expands the scope of permitted industries by reducing the number of industries that fall within the previous negative list where restrictions on the shareholding percentage or requirements on the composition of board or senior management still exists.

 

The Foreign Investment Law became effective on January 1, 2020 and has replaced the trio of three previous laws regulating foreign investment in China, or the Three FIE Laws, namely, the Sino-foreign Equity Joint Venture Enterprise Law, the Sino-foreign Cooperative Joint Venture Enterprise Law and the Wholly Foreign-invested Enterprise Law, together with their implementation rules and ancillary regulations, as the legal foundation for foreign investment in the PRC. Generally speaking, the PRC Company Law or the PRC Partnership Law shall apply with respect to an FIE’s organization. This is aimed to put an end to any discrepancy between the Three FIE Laws and the Company Law.

 

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The Foreign Investment Law mainly stipulates four forms of foreign investors, which includes: (a) a foreign investor, individually or collectively with other investors, establishes a foreign-invested enterprise within PRC; (b) a foreign investor acquires stock shares, equity shares, interests in assets, or other like rights and interests of an enterprise within PRC; (c) a foreign investor, individually or collectively with other investors, invests in a new project within PRC; and (d) foreign investors invest in China through any other methods under laws, administrative regulations, or provisions prescribed by the State Council. Compared with the Three FIE Laws, the Foreign Investment Law is profoundly different in the following aspects:

 

Application of a pre-establishment national treatment. According to the Foreign Investment Law, the PRC governments shall govern foreign investment according to the system of pre-establishment national treatment, which requires treatment given to foreign investors and their investments during the market access stage shall not be inferior to treatment afforded to PRC domestic investors and their investment except where a foreign investment falls into the orbit of the Negative List.

 

Application of an updated Investment Management. Pursuant to the Foreign Investment Law, the State shall establish a foreign investment information report system. Foreign investors or FIEs shall submit investment information to the competent department for commerce through the enterprise registration system and the enterprise credit information publicity system. The content and scope of information subject to the reporting obligations shall be determined under the principle of necessity. In addition, the State shall establish a security review system for foreign investment, under which a security review shall be conducted for any foreign investment affecting or having the possibility to affect the state security.

 

In addition, the Foreign Investment Law also provides several protective rules and principles for foreign investors and their investments in the PRC, including, among others, that local governments shall abide by their policy commitments to the foreign investors and perform all contracts entered into in accordance with the law; foreign-invested enterprises are allowed to issue stocks and corporate bonds; except for special circumstances, in which case statutory procedures shall be followed and fair and reasonable compensation shall be made in a timely manner, expropriate or requisition the investment of foreign investors is prohibited; mandatory technology transfer is prohibited; foreign investors’ funds are allowed to be freely transferred out and into the territory of PRC, which run through the entire lifecycle from the entry to the exit of foreign investment; and providing an all-around and multi-angle system to guarantee fair competition of foreign-invested enterprises in the market economy. Furthermore, the Foreign Investment Law provides that foreign-invested enterprises established according to the existing laws regulating foreign investment may maintain their structure and corporate governance within five years after the implementation of the Foreign Investment Law, which means that foreign-invested enterprises may be required to adjust the structure and corporate governance in accordance with the current PRC Company Law and other laws and regulations governing the corporate governance.

 

On December 12, 2019, the State Council promulgated the Implementation Regulations of Foreign Investment Law, or the Implementation Regulations, which simultaneously came into force with the Foreign Investment Law from January 1, 2020. The Implementation Regulations provides specific operation rules for the principles of investment protection, investment promotion and investment management in the Foreign Investment Law.

 

Regulation of Foreign Investment in the Insurance Brokerage and Insurance Agency Industry

 

Pursuant to the Announcement of the China Insurance Regulatory Commission on Permitting Foreign Insurance Brokerage Companies to Establish Solely Foreign-invested Insurance Brokerage Companies, effective from December 11, 2006, in accordance with the related commitments of China for accession to the WTO, foreign insurance brokerage companies may establish wholly foreign-funded insurance brokerage companies in accordance with PRC laws and there are no restrictions other than those on establishment conditions and business scope. Pursuant to the Notice of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission on Widening the Scope of Business of Foreign-funded Insurance Brokerage Companies issued on and effective from April 27, 2018, foreign-funded insurance brokerage institutions that have obtained insurance brokerage business permits upon approval by the insurance regulatory authority of the State Council may engage in the same businesses as a PRC domestic insurance brokerage company.

 

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Pursuant to the Public Announcement of the China Insurance Regulatory Commission on Relevant Matters Concerning the Application of the Insurance Agencies in Hong Kong and Macao for Establishing Solely-Invested Insurance Agencies in the Mainland issued on December 26, 2007, from January 1, 2008, local professional insurance agencies in Hong Kong or Macao which meet the requirements may apply for the establishment of solely-invested insurance agencies in the mainland of the PRC. Pursuant to the Supplements and Amendments VIII to the Mainland’s Specific Commitments on Liberalization of Trade in Services for Hong Kong and the Supplements and Amendments VIII to the Mainland’s Specific Commitments on Liberalization of Trade in Services for Macao, qualified insurance brokerage institutions in Hong Kong or Macao may establish solely-invested insurance agencies in Guangdong province (including Shenzhen) for practicing within Guangdong province. Pursuant to the Notice of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission on Allowing Overseas Investors to Operate Insurance Agent Business in China, effective from June 19, 2018, overseas insurance agency entities operating an insurance agency business for three or more years outside China and foreign-funded insurance companies in China which have operated for three or more years may apply to CBIRC to establish a foreign-invested insurance agency within China.

 

Regulations Relating to Foreign Investment in the Value-added Telecommunication Services

 

The Telecommunications Regulations of the People’s Republic of China, which was promulgated by the State Council on September 25, 2000 and last amended on February 6, 2016, categorizes all telecommunications businesses in China as either basic telecommunications businesses or value-added telecommunications businesses. Further, according to the Catalog of Telecommunications Business, attached to the Telecommunications Regulations and last mended by the MIIT on December 28, 2015, information services provided via fixed network, mobile network and Internet fall within value-added telecommunication services.

 

The State Council promulgated the Administrative Rules on Foreign-invested Telecommunications Enterprises in December 2001, as last amended on February 6, 2016, or the FITE Regulations. The FITE Regulations set forth detailed requirements with respect to capitalization, investor qualifications and application procedures in connection with the establishment of a foreign-invested telecommunications enterprise. These administrative rules require a foreign-invested value-added telecommunications enterprises in mainland China to be established as Sino-foreign joint ventures, which the foreign investors may acquire up to 50% of the equity interest of such enterprise.

 

In July 2006, MIIT publicly released the Notice on Strengthening the Administration of Foreign Investment in Operating Value-added Telecommunications Business, or the MIIT Notice, which reiterates certain provisions under the FITE Regulations. According to the MIIT Notice, if any foreign investor intends to invest in a PRC telecommunications business, a foreign-invested telecommunications enterprise must be established and such enterprise must apply for the relevant telecommunications business licenses. Under the MIIT Notice, domestic telecommunications enterprises are prohibited from renting, transferring or selling a telecommunications license to foreign investors in any form, and from providing any resources, premises, facilities and other assistance in any form to foreign investors for their illegal operation of any telecommunications business in China.

 

Regulations on Consumer Protection

 

In October 1993, the SCNPC promulgated the Law on the Protection of the Rights and Interests of Consumers, or the Consumer Protection Law, which became effective on January 1, 1994 and was further amended on August 27, 2009 and October 25, 2013. Under the Consumer Protection Law, any business operator providing a commodity or service to a consumer is subject to certain mandatory requirements, including the following:

 

to ensure that commodities and services up to certain safety requirements;

 

to protect the safety of consumers;

 

to disclose serious defects of a commodity or a service and to adopt preventive measures against occurrence of damage;

 

to provide consumers with accurate information and to refrain from conducting false advertising;

 

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to obtain consents of consumers and to disclose the rules for the collection and/or use of information when collecting data or information from consumers; to take technical measures and other necessary measures to protect the personal information collected from consumers; not to divulge, sell, or illegally provide consumers’ information to others; not to send commercial information to consumers without the consent or request of consumers or with a clear refusal from consumers;

 

not to set unreasonable or unfair terms for consumers or alleviate or release itself from civil liability for harming the legal rights and interests of consumers by means of standard contracts, circulars, announcements, shop notices or other means;

 

to remind consumers in a conspicuous manner to pay attention to the quality, quantity and prices or fees of commodities or services, duration and manner of performance, safety precautions and risk warnings, after-sales service, civil liability and other terms and conditions vital to the interests of consumers under a standard form of agreement prepared by the business operators, and to provide explanations as required by consumers; and

 

not to insult or slander consumers or to search the person of, or articles carried by, a consumer or to infringe upon the personal freedom of a consumer.

 

Business operators in China may be subject to civil liabilities for failing to fulfill the obligations discussed above. These liabilities include restoring the consumer’s reputation, eliminating the adverse effects suffered by the consumer, and offering apology and compensation for any loss thus incurred to the consumer. The following penalties may also be imposed by relevant governmental agencies upon business operators for the infraction of these obligations: issuance of a warning, confiscation of any illegal income, imposition of a fine, an order to cease business operation, revocation of its business license or imposition of criminal liabilities under circumstances that are specified in laws and statutory regulations.

 

In December 2003, the Supreme People’s Court in China enacted the Interpretation of Some Issues Concerning the Application of Law for the Trial of Cases on Compensation for Personal Injury, which further enhances the liabilities of business operators engaged in the operation of accommodation, restaurants, or entertainment facilities and subjects such operators to compensatory liabilities for failing to fulfill their statutory obligations to a reasonable extent or to guarantee the personal safety of others.

 

Regulation of Anti-money laundering

 

Based on the Circular on Strengthening Work of Anti-Money Laundering in Insurance Industry, promulgated on August 10, 2010 by the CB IRC, and Administrative Measures for the Anti-money Laundering Work in the Insurance Industry, effective from October 1, 2011, the CBIRC organizes, coordinates and directs policies concerning anti-money laundering in the insurance industry. Under these measures, insurance companies, insurance asset management companies, professional insurance agencies and insurance brokers are required to materially improve their anti-money laundering related internal control competence on the basis of real-name policy issuance and on the principle of complete customer materials, traceable transaction records and regulated funds operation.

 

Based on provisions of the Administrative Measures for the Anti-money Laundering Work in the Insurance Industry, insurance companies carrying out the insurance business via professional insurance agencies or financial institution-based insurance joint offering agencies must include anti-money laundering provisions in their cooperation agreements. Professional insurance agencies and brokers must establish anti-money laundering internal control systems and prohibit equity investments with funds from illicit sources.

 

Senior management personnel of professional insurance agencies and brokers must be versed in anti-money laundering laws and regulations. Professional insurance agencies and brokers must provide anti-money laundering training and education, properly manage major money laundering cases involving itself, facilitate anti-money laundering monitoring and inspection, administrative investigation and investigation of criminal activities involving money laundering, and keep confidential any information related to lawful anti-money laundering initiatives.

 

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Regulations relating to Information Security and Censorship

 

Internet content in China is also strictly regulated and restricted from a state security standpoint. Pursuant to the Decision Regarding the Protection of Internet Security enacted by the SCNPC on December 28, 2000, which was amended on August 27, 2009, any attempt to undertake the following actions may be subject to criminal punishment in China:

 

gaining improper entry into a computer or system of national strategic importance;

 

disseminating politically disruptive information;

 

leaking government secrets;

 

spreading false commercial information; or

 

infringing intellectual property rights.

 

The MPS has also promulgated a series of measures that prohibit the use of the internet in ways that, among other things, result in the leakage of government secrets or the spread of socially destabilizing content. The MPS and its local counterparts have supervision and inspection powers in this regard, and we may be subject to the jurisdiction of the local security bureaus. If an internet information service provider violates these measures, the PRC government may revoke its license and shut down its website. In 1997, the MPS issued the Administration Measures on the Security Protection of Computer Information Network with International Connections, which was amended by the State Council on January 8, 2011 and prohibited using internet in ways which, among others, resulted in a leakage of state secrets or spreading of socially destabilizing content.

 

Moreover, on December 7, 2016, the SCNPC promulgated the Cybersecurity Law of the People’s Republic of China, which became effective on June 1, 2017, pursuant to which, network operators shall comply with laws and regulations and fulfill their obligations to safeguard security of the network when conducting business and providing services. Those who provide services through networks shall take technical measures and other necessary measures pursuant to laws, regulations and compulsory national requirements to safeguard the safe and stable operation of the networks, respond to network security incidents effectively, prevent illegal and criminal activities, and maintain the integrity, confidentiality and usability of network data, and the network operator shall not collect the personal information irrelevant to the services it provides or collect or use the personal information in contravention of the laws or agreements between both parties.

 

Regulations relating to Protection of User Identity and Information

 

The security and confidentiality of information on the identity of internet users are also highly regulated in China. The Internet Information Service Administrative Measures promulgated by the State Council requires internet information service providers to maintain an adequate system that protects the security of user information. In December 2005, the MPS promulgated the Regulations on Technical Measures of Internet Security Protection, requiring internet service providers to utilize standard technical measures for internet security protection. Moreover, the Rules for Regulating the Market Order of Internet Content Services, which was promulgated in December 2011, further enhances the protection of internet users’ personal information by prohibiting internet information service providers from unauthorized collection, disclosure or use of personal information of their users.

 

In December 2012, the SCNPC promulgated the Decision on Strengthening Network Information Protection to enhance the legal protection of information security and privacy on the internet. On July 16, 2013, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, or the MIIT, promulgated the Provisions for the Protection of Telecommunication and Internet User Personal Information, or the Provisions for the Protection of Person Information. According to the Provisions for the Protection of Person Information, under which Internet information service providers are subject to strict requirements to protect personal information of internet users, including: if a network service provider wishes to collect or use personal information, such personal information collected shall be used only in connection with the services to be provided by Internet information service providers to such users and shall be kept in strict confidence. Furthermore, it must disclose to its users the purpose, method and scope of any such collection or usage, and must obtain consent from the users whose information is being collected or used. Network service providers are also required to establish and publish their protocols relating to personal information collection or usage, keep any collected information strictly confidential and take technological and other measures to maintain the security of such information. Network service providers are required to cease any collection or usage of the relevant personal information, and de register the relevant user account, when a user stops using the relevant Internet service. Network service providers are further prohibited from divulging, distorting or destroying any such personal information, or selling or providing such personal information unlawfully to other parties. In addition, if a network service provider appoints an agent to undertake any marketing or technical services that involve the collection or usage of personal information, the network service provider is required to supervise and manage the protection of the information. Pursuant to the Provisions for the Protection of Person Information, in broad terms, that violators may face warnings, fines, public exposure and, in the most severe cases, criminal liability.

 

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Regulations relating to Mobile Internet Applications Information Services

 

In China a mobile internet application is governed by the Provisions on the Administration of Mobile Internet Application Information Services, or the Provisions on Administration of Application, as promulgated by the CAC on June 28, 2016 and became effective on August 1, 2016.

 

Pursuant to the Provisions on Administration of Application, application information service providers shall obtain the relevant qualifications as required by laws and regulations, strictly implement their information security management responsibilities, and carry out the duties including to establish and complete user information security protection mechanism, to establish and complete information content inspection and management mechanisms, to protect users’ right to know the right to choose in the process of usage, and to record users’ daily information and preserve it for sixty (60) days.

 

Regulation Relating to Intellectual Property

 

The Copyright Law

 

PRC has enacted various laws and regulations relating to the protection of copyright. PRC is a signatory to some major international conventions on protection of copyright and became a member of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works in October 1992, the Universal Copyright Convention in October 1992, and the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights upon its accession to the World Trade Organization in December 2001.

 

The Copyright Law of the PRC (2010 Revision), or the Copyright Law, which was promulgated on September 7, 1990 and subsequently amended on October 27, 2001 and February 26, 2010 and the Implementation Regulation of the Trademark Law of the PRC promulgated by the State Council on August 2, 2002 and further amended on January 8, 2011 and January 30, 2013 provides that Chinese citizens, legal persons, or other organizations shall, whether published or not, enjoy copyright in their works, which include, among others, works of literature, art, natural science, social science, engineering technology and computer software. The purpose of the Copyright Law aims to encourage the creation and dissemination of works which is beneficial for the construction of socialist spiritual civilization and material civilization and promotes the development and prosperity of Chinese culture.

 

Pursuant to the Computer Software Protection Regulations, as promulgated by the State Council on December 20, 2001, and most recently amended on January 30, 2013, Chinese citizens, legal persons and other organizations shall enjoy copyright on the software they develop, regardless of whether the software has been released publicly. Software copyright commences from the date on which the development of the software is completed. The protection period for software copyright of a legal person or other organizations shall be 50 years, concluding on December 31 of the 50th year after the software’s initial release. In order to further implement the Computer Software Protection Regulations, the State Copyright Bureau issued the Regulations for Computer Software Copyright Registration Procedures on February 20, 2002, which apply to software copyright registration, license contract registration and transfer contract registration.

 

The Trademark Law

 

Trademarks are protected by the Trademark Law of the People’ Republic of China (2013 Revision) which was promulgated on August 23, 1982 and subsequently amended on February 22, 1993, October 27, 2001 and August 30, 2013 respectively as well as the Implementation Regulation of the PRC Trademark Law adopted by the State Council on August 3, 2002 and further amended on April 29, 2014. In China, registered trademarks include commodity trademarks, service trademarks, collective trademarks and certification trademarks.

 

The Trademark Office under the SAMR, handles trademark registrations and grants a term of ten years to registered trademarks. Trademarks are renewable every ten years where a registered trademark needs to be used after the expiration of its validity term. A registration renewal application shall be filed within 12 months prior to the expiration of the term. A trademark registrant may license its registered trademark to another party by entering into a trademark license contract. Trademark license agreements must be filed with the Trademark Office to be recorded. The licensor shall supervise the quality of the commodities on which the trademark is used, and the licensee shall guarantee the quality of such commodities. As with trademarks, the PRC Trademark Law has adopted a “first come, first file” principle with respect to trademark registration. Where the trademark for which a registration application has been made is identical or similar to another trademark which has already been registered or been subject to a preliminary examination and approval for use on the same kind of or similar commodities or services, the application for registration of such trademark may be rejected. Any person applying for the registration of a trademark may not prejudice the existing right first obtained by others, nor may any person register in advance a trademark that has already been used by another party and has already gained a “sufficient degree of reputation” through such party’s use.

 

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The Patent Law

 

According to the Patent Law of the People’s Republic of China (2008 Revision) promulgated by the SCNPC, and its Implementation Rules (2010 Revision) promulgated by the State Council, the State Intellectual Property Office of the PRC is responsible for administering patents in the PRC. The patent administration departments of provincial or autonomous regions or municipal governments are responsible for administering patents within their respective jurisdictions. The Patent Law of the PRC and its implementation rules provide for three types of patents, “invention”, “utility model” and “design”. Invention patents are valid for twenty years, while design patents and utility model patents are valid for ten years, from the date of application. The Chinese patent system adopts a “first come, first file” principle, which means that where more than one person files a patent application for the same invention, a patent will be granted to the person who files the application first. To be patentable, invention or utility models must meet three criteria: novelty, inventiveness and practicability. Except under certain specific circumstances provided by law, any third party user must obtain consent or a proper license from the patent owner to use the patent. Otherwise, the use constitutes an infringement of the patent rights.

 

Domain Names

 

On May 29, 2012, the China Internet Network Information Center, or the CNNIC issued the Implementing of the Rules for China Internet Network Information Center Domain Name Registration (2012 Revision), setting forth detailed rules for registration of domain names. The MIIT promulgated the Administrative Measures on Internet Domain Name, or the Domain Name Measures on August 24, 2017, which became effective on November 1, 2017. According to the Domain Name Measures, domain name owners are required to register their domain names and the MIIT is in charge of the administration of PRC Internet domain names. The domain name services follow a “first come, first file” principle. Applicants for registration of domain names shall provide their true, accurate and complete information of such domain names to and enter into registration agreements with domain name registration service institutions. The applicants will become the holders of such domain names upon the completion of the registration procedure.

 

Regulations Relating to Foreign Exchange

 

General Administration of Foreign Exchange

 

Foreign currency exchange in China is primarily governed by the Foreign Exchange Control Regulations of the PRC, or the Foreign Exchange Administration Rules, promulgated by the State Council on January 29, 1996 and last amended on August 5, 2008, and various regulations issued by the State Administration of Foreign Exchange, or the SAFE and other relevant PRC government authorities. Under the Foreign Exchange Administration Rules, the RMB is freely convertible into other currencies for routine current account items, including distribution of dividends, payment of interest, trade and service related foreign exchange transactions. The conversion of RMB into other currencies for most capital account items, such as direct equity investment, overseas loan, and repatriation of investment, however, is still regulated. Payments for transactions that take place within the PRC must be made in RMB. Unless otherwise approved, PRC companies may repatriate foreign currency payments received from abroad or retain the same abroad. Foreign-invested enterprises may retain foreign exchange in accounts with designated foreign exchange banks under the current account items subject to a cap set by the SAFE or its local office. Foreign exchange proceeds under the current accounts may be either retained or sold to a financial institution engaging in settlement and sale of foreign exchange pursuant to relevant rules and regulations of the State. For foreign exchange proceeds under the capital accounts, approval from the SAFE is required for its retention or sale to a financial institution engaging in settlement and sale of foreign exchange, except where such approval is not required under the relevant rules and regulations of the PRC.

 

Pursuant to the Notice of the SAFE on Further Improving and Adjusting Foreign Exchange Administration Policies for Direct Investment, or the SAFE Notice No. 59, as promulgated by SAFE on November 19, 2012 and further amended on May 4, 2015 and October 10, 2018, approval is not required for the opening of an account entry in foreign exchange accounts under direct investment, for domestic transfer of the foreign exchange under direct investment. SAFE Notice No. 59 also simplified the capital verification and confirmation formalities for foreign-invested entities and the foreign capital and foreign exchange registration formalities required for the foreign investors to acquire the equities of a Chinese party, and further improve the administration on exchange settlement of foreign exchange capital of foreign-invested entities.

 

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On February 13, 2015, SAFE promulgated the Notice on Simplifying and Improving the Foreign Currency Management Policy on Direct Investment, effective June 1, 2015, which canceled the administrative approvals of foreign exchange registration of direct domestic investment and direct overseas investment. In addition, it simplified the procedure of registration of foreign exchange and investors shall register with banks for direct domestic investment and direct overseas investment.

 

The Notice of the SAFE on Reforming the Management Approach regarding the Settlement of Foreign Capital of Foreign-invested Enterprise, or the SAFE Notice No. 19, was promulgated on March 30, 2015 and became effective on June 1, 2015. According to the SAFE Notice No. 19, a foreign-invested enterprise may, in response to its actual business needs, settles with a bank the portion of the foreign exchange capital in its capital account for which the relevant foreign exchange bureau has confirmed monetary contribution rights and interests (or for which the bank has registered the account crediting of monetary contribution). For the time being, foreign-invested enterprises are allowed to settle 100% of their foreign exchange capitals on a discretionary basis; a foreign-invested enterprise shall truthfully use its capital for its own operational purposes within the scope of business; where an ordinary foreign-invested enterprise makes domestic equity investment with the amount of foreign exchanges settled, the invested enterprise shall first go through domestic re-investment registration and open a corresponding account for foreign exchange settlement pending payment with the foreign exchange bureau (bank) at the place of registration.

 

The Notice of the SAFE on Reforming and Regulating Policies on the Control over Foreign Exchange Settlement of Capital Accounts, or the SAFE Notice No. 16, was promulgated and became effective on June 9, 2016. According to the SAFE Notice No. 16, enterprises registered in PRC may also convert their foreign debts from foreign currency into RMB on self-discretionary basis. The SAFE Notice No. 16 provides an integrated standard for conversion of foreign exchange under capital account items (including but not limited to foreign currency capital and foreign debts) on self-discretionary basis, which applies to all enterprises registered in the PRC. The SAFE Notice No. 16 reiterates the principle that RMB converted from foreign currency-denominated capital of a company may not be directly or indirectly used for purposes beyond its business scope and may not be used for investment in securities or other investment with the exception of bank financial products that can guarantee the principal within PRC unless otherwise specifically provided. Besides, the converted RMB shall not be used to make loans for related enterprises unless it is within the business scope or to build or to purchase any real estate that is not for the enterprise own use with the exception for the real estate enterprises.

 

On January 26, 2017, SAFE promulgated the Notice on Further Improving Reform of Foreign Exchange Administration and Optimizing Genuineness and Compliance Verification, or the SAFE Notice No. 3, which stipulates several capital control measures with respect to the outbound remittance of profits from domestic entities to offshore entities, including (i) under the principle of genuine transaction, banks shall check board resolutions regarding profit distribution, the original version of tax filing records and audited financial statements; and (ii) domestic entities shall cover losses in the previous years prior to remittance of profits. Moreover, pursuant to the SAFE Notice No. 3, domestic entities shall make detailed explanations of the sources of capital and utilization arrangements, and provide board resolutions, contracts and other proof when completing the registration procedures in connection with an outbound investment.

 

Regulations on Offshore Financing

 

On July 4, 2014, the SAFE issued the Notice on Issues Relating to the Administration of Foreign Exchange for Overseas Investment and Financing and Reverse Investment by Domestic Residents via Special Purpose Vehicles, or Circular 37, which became effective on the same date, and Circular 37 shall prevail over any other inconsistency between itself and relevant regulations promulgated earlier. Pursuant to Circular 37, any PRC residents, including both PRC institutions and individual residents, are required to register with the local SAFE branch before making contribution to a company set up or controlled by the PRC residents outside of the PRC for the purpose of overseas investment or financing with their legally owned domestic or offshore assets or interests, referred to in this circular as a “special purpose vehicle”. Under Circular 37, the term “PRC institutions” refers to entities with legal person status or other economic organizations established within the territory of the PRC. The term “PRC individual residents” includes all PRC citizens (also including PRC citizens abroad) and foreigners who habitually reside in the PRC for economic benefit. A registered special purpose vehicle is required to amend its SAFE registration or file with respect to such vehicle in connection with any change of basic information including PRC individual resident shareholder, name, term of operation, or PRC individual resident’s increase or decrease of capital, transfer or exchange of shares, merger, division or other material changes. In addition, if a non-listed special purpose vehicle grants any equity incentives to directors, supervisors or employees of domestic companies under its direct or indirect control, the relevant PRC individual residents could register with the local SAFE branch before exercising such options. The SAFE simultaneously issued a series of guidance to its local branches with respect to the implementation of Circular 37. Under Circular 37, failure to comply with the foreign exchange registration procedures may result in restrictions being imposed on the foreign exchange activities of the relevant onshore company, including restrictions on the payment of dividends and other distributions to its offshore parent company and the capital inflow from the offshore entity, and may also subject the relevant PRC residents and onshore company to penalties under the PRC foreign exchange administration regulations.

 

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On February 15, 2012, SAFE issued the Notice of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange on Issues concerning the Foreign Exchange Administration of Domestic Individuals’ Participation in Equity Incentive Plans of Overseas Listed Companies, or the Circular 7, which replaced the Application Procedures of Foreign Exchange Administration for Domestic Individuals Participating in Employee Stock Ownership Plans or Stock Option Plans of Overseas Publicly-listed Companies issued by SAFE on March 28, 2007. Under the Circular 7, a PRC entity’s directors, supervisors, senior management officers, other staff or individuals who have an employment or labor relationship with a Chinese entity and are granted stock options by an overseas publicly-listed company are required, through a qualified PRC domestic agent which could be a PRC subsidiary of such overseas publicly-listed company, to register with SAFE and complete certain other procedures. Such PRC resident participants must also retain an overseas entrusted institution to handle matters in connection with their exercise of stock options, purchase and sale of corresponding stocks or interests, and fund transfer. The PRC agent shall, among other things, file on behalf of such PRC resident participants an application with SAFE to conduct the SAFE registration with respect to such stock incentive plan and obtain approval for an annual allowance with respect to the purchase of foreign exchange in connection with the exercise or sale of stock options or stock such participants hold. In addition, the PRC agent is required to amend the SAFE registration with respect to the stock incentive plan if there is any material change to the stock incentive plan, the PRC agent or the overseas entrusted institution or other material aspects. Such participating PRC residents’ foreign exchange income received from the sale of stock and dividends distributed by the overseas publicly-listed company must be fully remitted into a PRC collective foreign currency account opened and managed by the PRC agent before distribution to such participants. We and our PRC resident employees who have been granted stock options or other share-based incentives of our company are subject to the Circular 7 as our company is an overseas listed company. If we or our PRC resident participants fail to comply with these regulations in the future, we and/or our PRC resident participants may be subject to fines and legal sanctions.

 

Regulations relating to Tax

 

Enterprise Income Tax

 

On March 16, 2007, the NPC promulgated the Law of the PRC on Enterprise Income Tax which was amended on February 24, 2017 and December 29, 2018, and on December 6, 2007, the State Council enacted the Regulations for the Implementation of the Law on Enterprise Income Tax, or collectively, the EIT Law. The EIT Law came into effect on January 1, 2008. According to the EIT Law, taxpayers consist of resident enterprises and Non-Resident Enterprises. Resident enterprises are defined as enterprises that are established in China in accordance with PRC laws, or that are established in accordance with the laws of foreign countries but whose actual or de facto control is administered from within the PRC. Non-Resident Enterprises are defined as enterprises that are set up in accordance with the laws of foreign countries and whose actual administration is conducted outside the PRC, but have established institutions or premises in the PRC, or have no such established institutions or premises but have income generated from inside the PRC. Under the EIT Law and relevant implementing regulations, a uniform corporate income tax rate of 25% is applicable. However, if non-resident enterprises have not formed permanent establishments or premises in the PRC, or if they have formed permanent establishment institutions or premises in the PRC but there is no actual relationship between the relevant income derived in the PRC and the established institutions or premises set up by them, the enterprise income tax is, in that case, set at the rate of 10% for their income sourced from inside the PRC. Enterprises that are recognized as high and new technology enterprises in accordance with the Notice of the Ministry of Science, the Ministry of Finance and the State Administration of Taxation on Amending and Issuing the Administrative Measures for the Determination of High and New Tech Enterprises are entitled to enjoy the preferential enterprise income tax rate of 15%. The validity period of the high and new technology enterprise qualification shall be three years from the date of issuance of the certificate of high and new technology enterprise. The enterprise can reapply for such recognition as a high and new technology enterprise before or after the previous certificate expires.

 

The Notice Regarding the Determination of Chinese-Controlled Offshore Incorporated Enterprises as PRC Tax Resident Enterprises on the Basis of De Facto Management Bodies promulgated by the SAT on April 22, 2009 and amended on January 29, 2014 sets out the standards and procedures for determining whether the “de facto management body” of an enterprise registered outside of the PRC and controlled by PRC enterprises or PRC enterprise groups is located within the PRC.

 

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Value-added tax

 

The Provisional Regulations of the PRC on Value-added tax (2017 Revision) were promulgated by the State Council on November 19, 2017. The Detailed Rules for the Implementation of the Provisional Regulations of the PRC on Value-added tax (2011 Revision) were promulgated by the Ministry of Finance and the SAT on December 15, 2008, which were subsequently amended on October 28, 2011 and came into effect on November 1, 2011, or collectively, the VAT Law. According to the VAT Law, all enterprises and individuals engaged in the sale of goods, the provision of processing, repair and replacement services, and the importation of goods within the territory of the PRC must pay value-added tax. For general VAT taxpayers selling services or intangible assets other than those specifically listed in the VAT Law, the value-added tax rate is 6%.

 

Dividend Withholding Tax

 

The EIT Law provides that since January 1, 2008, an income tax rate of 10% will normally be applicable to dividends declared to non-PRC resident investors who do not have an establishment or place of business in the PRC, or which have such establishment or place of business, but the relevant income is not effectively connected with the establishment or place of business, to the extent such dividends are derived from sources within the PRC.

 

In addition, the EIT Law provides that an income tax rate of 10% will normally be applicable to dividends payable to investors that are “Non-Resident Enterprises”, and gains derived by such investors, which (a) do not have an establishment or place of business in the PRC or (b) have an establishment or place of business in the PRC, but the relevant income is not effectively connected with the establishment or place of business to the extent such dividends and gains are derived from sources within the PRC. Such income tax on the dividends may be reduced pursuant to a tax treaty between China and the jurisdictions in which the non-PRC shareholders reside. Pursuant to the Arrangement Between the Mainland of China and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion With Respect to Tax on Income, or the Double Tax Avoidance Arrangement, and other applicable PRC laws, if a Hong Kong resident enterprise has satisfied the relevant conditions and requirements under such Double Tax Avoidance Arrangement and other applicable laws, the 10% withholding tax on the dividends the Hong Kong resident enterprise receives from a PRC resident enterprise may be reduced to 5%. However, based on the Notice on Certain Issues with Respect to the Enforcement of Dividend Provisions in Tax Treaties, or Notice No. 81, issued on February 20, 2009 by the SAT, if the relevant PRC tax authorities determine, in their discretion, that a company benefits from such reduced income tax rate due to a structure or arrangement that is primarily tax driven, such PRC tax authorities may adjust the preferential tax treatment. In August 2015, the State Administration of Taxation promulgated the Administrative Measures for Non-resident Taxpayers to Enjoy Treatment under Tax Treaties, or SAT Circular 60, which became effective on November 1, 2015. SAT Circular 60 provides that Non-Resident Enterprises are not required to obtain pre-approval from the relevant tax authority in order to enjoy the reduced withholding tax. Instead, Non-Resident Enterprises and their withholding agents may, by self-assessment and on confirmation that the prescribed criteria to enjoy the tax treaty benefits are met, directly apply the reduced withholding tax rate, and file the necessary forms and supporting documents when performing tax filings, which will be subject to post tax filing examinations by the relevant tax authorities.

 

According to the Circular on Several Questions regarding the “Beneficial Owner” in Tax Treaties, which was issued on February 3, 2018 by the SAT and took effect on April 1, 2018, when determining the applicant’s status of the “beneficial owner” regarding tax treatments in connection with dividends, interest or royalties in the tax treaties, several factors, including without limitation, whether the applicant is obligated to pay more than 50% of his or her income in 12 months to residents in a third country or region, whether the business operated by the applicant constitutes the actual business activities, and whether the counterparty country or region to the tax treaties does not levy any tax or grants tax exemption on relevant incomes or levy tax at an extremely low rate, will be taken into account, and it will be analyzed according to the actual circumstances of the specific cases. This circular further provides that applicants who intend to prove his or her status as the “beneficial owner” shall submit the relevant documents to the relevant tax bureau according to the Announcement on Issuing the Measures for the Administration of Non-resident Taxpayers’ Enjoyment of the Treatment under Tax Agreements.

 

Regulations Relating to Dividend Distribution

 

The principal regulations governing distribution of dividends of foreign-invested enterprises include (i) the Company Law, promulgated by the SCNPC on December 29, 1993, and as amended on December 25, 1999, August 28, 2004, October 27, 2005, December 28, 2013 and October 26, 2018, respectively, (ii) the Foreign-invested Enterprise Law, promulgated by the SCNPC on April 12, 1986, and as amended on October 31, 2000 and September 3, 2016, respectively, and (iii) the Implementation Rules of the Foreign-invested Enterprise Law approved by the State Council on October 28, 1990, and as amended on April 12, 2001, and February 19, 2014, respectively.

 

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Under these laws and regulations, foreign-invested enterprises in China may pay dividends only out of their accumulated profits, if any, determined in accordance with PRC accounting standards and regulations. In addition, foreign-invested enterprises in China are required to allocate at least 10% of their respective accumulated profits each year, if any, to fund certain reserve funds unless these reserves have reached 50% of the registered capital of the enterprises. These reserves are not distributable as cash dividends. A foreign-invested enterprise has the discretion to allocate a portion of its after tax profits to staff welfare and bonus funds. A Chinese company (including the foreign-invested enterprise) is not permitted to distribute any profits until any losses from prior fiscal years have been offset. Profits retained from prior fiscal years may be distributed together with distributable profits from the current fiscal year.

 

Regulations Relating to Merger and Acquisition and Overseas Listing

 

On August 8, 2006, six PRC regulatory agencies, namely the MOFCOM, the State Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, the State Administration of Taxation, the State Administration of Industry and Commerce, or the SAIC, the China Securities Regulatory Commission, or the CSRC, and the SAFE, jointly adopted the Regulations on Mergers and Acquisitions of Domestic Enterprises by Foreign Investors, or the New M&A Rule, which became effective on September 8, 2006. This New M&A Rule, as amended on June 22, 2009, purports, among other things, to require offshore special purpose vehicles, or SPVs, formed for overseas listing purposes through acquisitions of PRC domestic companies and controlled by PRC companies or individuals, to obtain the approval of the CSRC prior to publicly listing their securities on an overseas stock exchange. On September 21, 2006, the CSRC published a notice on its official website specifying documents and materials required to be submitted to it by SPVs seeking CSRC approval of their overseas listings.

 

The New M&A Rule also established additional procedures and requirements that could make merger and acquisition activities by foreign investors more time-consuming and complex, including requirements in some instances that the MOFCOM be notified in advance of any change of control transaction in which a foreign investor takes control of a PRC domestic enterprise.

 

Regulation relating to Employment and Social Welfare

 

Labor Protection

 

The main PRC employment laws and regulations include the Labor Law of the PRC, as revised on December 29, 2018, the Labor Contract Law of the PRC, or the Labor Contract Law and the Implementing Regulations of the Employment Contract Law of the PRC.

 

The Labor Contract Law was promulgated on June 29, 2007, revised on December 28, 2012, and came into force on July 1, 2013. This law governs the establishment of employment relationships between employers and employees, and the execution, performance, termination of, and the amendment to, employment contracts. The Labor Contract Law is primarily aimed at regulating employee/employer rights and obligations, including matters with respect to the establishment, performance and termination of labor contracts. Pursuant to the Labor Contract Law, labor contracts shall be concluded in writing if labor relationships are to be or have been established between enterprises or institutions and the laborers. Enterprises and institutions are forbidden to force laborers to work beyond the time limit and employers shall pay laborers for overtime work in accordance with national regulations. In addition, labor wages shall not be lower than local standards on minimum wages and shall be paid to laborers in a timely manner. In addition, according to the Labor Contract Law: (i) employees must adhere to regulations in the labor contracts concerning commercial confidentiality and non-competition; (ii) employees may terminate their employment contracts with their employers if their employers fail to make social insurance contributions in accordance with the law; and (iii) enterprises and institutions shall establish and improve their system of workplace safety and sanitation, strictly abide by state rules and standards on workplace safety, educate laborers in labor safety and sanitation in the PRC.

 

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The Labor Contract Law imposes more stringent requirements on labor dispatch. According to the Labor Contract Law, (i) it is strongly emphasized that dispatched contract workers shall be entitled to equal pay for equal work as an employee of an employer; (ii) dispatched contract workers may only be engaged to perform temporary, auxiliary or substitute works; and (iii) an employer shall strictly control the number of dispatched contract workers so that they do not exceed certain percentage of total number of employees and the specific percentage shall be prescribed by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security. Under the law, “temporary work” means a position with a term of less than six months; “auxiliary work” means a non-core business position that provides services for the core business of the employer; and “substitute work” means a position that can be temporarily replaced with a dispatched contract worker for the period that a regular employee is away from work for vacation, study or other reasons. According to the Interim Provisions on Labor Dispatch promulgated by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security on January 24, 2014, which became effective on March 1, 2014, (i) the number of dispatched contract workers hired by an employer should not exceed 10% of the total number of its employees (including both directly hired employees and dispatched contract workers); and (ii) in the case that the number of dispatched contract workers exceeds 10% of the total number of its employees at the time when the Interim Provisions on Labor Dispatch became effective, the employer must formulate a plan to reduce the number of its dispatched contract workers to comply with the aforesaid cap requirement prior to March 1, 2016. In addition, such plan shall be filed with the local administrative authority of human resources and social security. Nevertheless, the Interim Provisions on Labor Dispatch do not invalidate the labor contracts and dispatch agreements entered into prior to December 28, 2012 and such labor contracts and dispatch agreements may continue to be performed until their respective dates of expiration. The employer may also not hire any new dispatched contract worker before the number of its dispatched contract workers is reduced to below 10% of the total number of its employees. In case of violation, the labor administrative department shall order rectification within a specified period of time; if the situation is not rectified within the specified period, a fine from RMB5,000 to RMB10,000 for each person shall be imposed, and the staffing company’s business license shall be revoked. If a placed worker suffers any harm or loss caused by the receiving entity, the staffing company and the receiving entity shall be jointly and severally liable for damages.

 

Social Insurance and Housing Fund

 

As required under the Regulation of Insurance for Labor Injury implemented on January 1, 2004 and amended in 2010, the Provisional Measures for Maternity Insurance of Employees of Corporations implemented on January 1, 1995, the Decisions on the Establishment of a Unified Program for Basic Old Aged Pension Insurance of the State Council issued on July 16, 1997, the Decisions on the Establishment of the Medical Insurance Program for Urban Workers of the State Council promulgated on December 14, 1998, the Unemployment Insurance Measures promulgated on January 22, 1999 and the Social Insurance Law of the PRC implemented on July 1, 2011 and revised on December 29, 2018, enterprises are obliged to provide their employees in the PRC with welfare schemes covering pension insurance, unemployment insurance, maternity insurance, labor injury insurance and medical insurance. These payments are made to local administrative authorities and any employer that fails to contribute may be fined and ordered to make up within a prescribed time limit.

 

In accordance with the Regulations on the Management of Housing Funds which was promulgated by the State Council in 1999 and amended in 2002, enterprises must register at the competent managing center for housing funds and upon the examination by such managing centers of housing funds, these enterprises shall complete procedures for opening an account at the relevant bank for the deposit of employees’ housing funds. Enterprises are also required to pay and deposit housing funds on behalf of their employees in full and in a timely manner, and any employer that fails to open such bank account or contribute any housing funds may be fined and ordered to make up within a prescribed time limit.

 

C. Organizational Structure

 

We are not an operating company but a Cayman Islands holding company with operations conducted by our subsidiaries in China. Our operations are primarily conducted through our PRC subsidiaries and other consolidated entities. Investors in our ADSs thus are purchasing equity interest in a Cayman Islands holding company and not in an operating entity. As a holding company, FLJ Group Limited may rely on dividends from its subsidiaries for cash requirements, including any payment of dividends to our shareholders. The ability of our subsidiaries to pay dividends to FLJ Group Limited may be restricted by laws and regulations applicable to them or the debt they incur on their own behalf or the instruments governing their debt.

 

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The chart below sets forth our simplified corporate structure and identifies our principal subsidiaries as of September 30, 2023.

 

 

 

(1)Previously known as Qingke (Shanghai) Artificial Intelligence Technology Co., Ltd.

 

(2)Chengcai Qu holds the remaining 0.1% of the shares of Chengdu Liwu Apartment Management Co., Ltd. on behalf of Haoju (Shanghai) Artificial Intelligence Technology Co., Ltd.

 

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On October 31, 2023, we sold all of our equity interest in Haoju. Haoju holds substantially all of the equity interest of our subsidiaries in the PRC, through which we carried out the Disposed Business. The Disposed Business contributed substantially all revenue and held substantially all of our assets prior to the Disposal.

 

We acquired Alpha Mind, an insurance agency and insurance technology business in the PRC on December 28, 2023. Alpha Mind conducts insurance agency and insurance technology businesses in the PRC through the Current WFOE and Current VIEs.

 

We conduct insurance agency and insurance technology businesses in the PRC through our indirectly wholly-owned subsidiary, our Current WFOE and the Current WFOE’s consolidated variable interest entities. In April 2022, Alpha Mind, through the Current WFOE, entered into contractual arrangements with the Current VIEs. The contractual arrangements enable Alpha Mind to obtain control over the Current VIEs. The contractual arrangements consist of powers of attorney, exclusive business cooperation agreements, exclusive option agreements, equity interest pledge agreements and spousal consent letters. See “Item 4. Information on the Company — C. Organizational Structure — Contractual Arrangements with the Current VIEs and Their Shareholders” for details.

 

The chart below sets forth our simplified corporate structure and identifies our principal subsidiaries as of the date of this annual report.

 

 

-----►VIE contractual arrangement

 

 

  Note:

On December 28, 2023, we completed the acquisition of 100% equity interest in Alpha Mind for a consideration of US$180,000,000. The purchase price is payable in the form of the Notes. The Notes have a maturity of 90 days from the closing date, which was subsequently extended to June 30, 2024, an interest rate at an annual rate to 3% per annum and will be secured by all of the issued and outstanding equity of the Alpha Mind and all of the assets of the Alpha Mind, including its consolidated entities.

 

Contractual Arrangements with the Current VIEs and Their Shareholders

 

Agreements that Provide Us with Effective Control over the Current VIEs

 

Equity Pledge Agreements

 

The Current WFOE entered into an equity pledge agreement with each of the Current VIEs and its shareholders on April 13, 2022. The registration of the equity pledge with the relevant office of the Administration for Industry and Commerce in accordance with PRC Property Rights Law was completed on January 1, 2022. Pursuant to the equity pledge agreement and upon the completion of the equity pledge registration, each shareholder of each of the Current VIEs has pledged all of its equity interest in each of the Current VIEs to the Current WFOE to guarantee the performance by such shareholder and each of the Current VIEs of their respective obligations under the exclusive business cooperation agreement, powers of attorney and exclusive option agreement as well as their respective liabilities arising from any breach. If each of the Current VIEs or any of its shareholders breaches any obligations under these agreements, the Current WFOE, as pledgee, will be entitled to dispose of the pledged equity and have priority to be compensated by the proceeds from the disposal of the pledged equity. Each of the shareholders of each of the Current VIEs agrees that before its obligations under the contractual arrangements are discharged, he or she will not dispose of the pledged equity interests, create or allow any encumbrance on the pledged equity interests, or take any action which may result in any change of the pledged equity that may have material adverse effects on the pledgee’s rights under this agreement without the prior written consent of the Current WFOE. The equity pledge agreement will remain effective until each of the Current VIEs and its shareholders discharge all their obligations under the contractual arrangements.

 

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Power of Attorney

 

The Current WFOE entered into a power of attorney with each of the Current VIEs and its shareholders on April 13, 2022. Pursuant to the power of attorney, each shareholder of each of the Current VIEs irrevocably authorizes any person(s) designated by the Current WFOE to act as his or her exclusive agent and attorney to exercise all of such shareholder’s voting and other rights associated with the shareholder’s equity interest in each of the Current VIEs, such as the right to appoint or remove directors, supervisors and officers, as well as the right to sell, transfer, pledge and dispose of all or a portion of the shares held by such shareholder. Each power of attorney will remain in force as long as the shareholder remains a shareholder of each of the Current VIEs.

 

Agreement that Allows Us to Receive Economic Benefits from the Current VIEs

 

Exclusive Business Cooperation Agreements

 

The Current WFOE entered into an exclusive business cooperation agreements with each of the Current VIEs on April 13, 2022. The Current WFOE has the exclusive right to provide each of the Current VIEs with technical support, consulting services and other services. In exchange, the Current WFOE is entitled to receive a service fee from each of the Current VIEs on an annual basis and at an amount equal to 100% of the consolidated net income (gross income less costs) of each of the Current VIEs.

 

Each of the Current VIEs has granted the Current WFOE the exclusive right to purchase any or all of their business or assets at the lowest price permitted under PRC law. This agreement remains effective unless otherwise agreed among the parties.

 

Agreement that Provides Us with the Option to Purchase the Equity Interest and Assets in the Current VIEs

 

Exclusive Option Agreements

 

Pursuant to the exclusive option agreements entered into by the Current WFOE with each of the Current VIEs and shareholders of the Current VIEs on April 13, 2022, the shareholders of each of the Current VIEs have irrevocably granted the Current WFOE an exclusive option to purchase, by itself or by persons designated by it, at its discretion at any time, to the extent permitted under PRC law, all or part of such shareholders’ equity interests in each of the Current VIEs.

 

The purchase price of the equity interests in each of the Current VIEs shall be equal to the minimum price regulated by the PRC law.

 

Without the Current WFOE’s prior written consent, each of the Current VIEs and its shareholders have agreed not to amend each of the Current VIEs’ articles of association, increase or decrease each of the Current VIEs’ registered capital, change each of the Current VIEs’ structure or registered capital in other manners, sell or otherwise dispose of each of the Current VIEs’ material assets or beneficial interests in each of the Current VIEs, create or allow any encumbrance on each of the Current VIEs’ material assets or provide any loans.

 

Current WFOE is entitled to all dividends and other distributions declared by each of the Current VIEs, and the shareholders of each of the Current VIEs have agreed to pay any such dividends or distributions to Current WFOE or any other person designated by Current WFOE to the extent permitted under applicable PRC laws. The exclusive option agreements will remain effective until all equity interests of each of the Current VIEs held by its shareholders have been transferred or assigned to Current WFOE or its designated person.

 

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Spousal Consent Letters

 

Each spouse of the relevant individual shareholders of the Current VIEs has signed a spousal consent letter. Under the spousal consent letter, the signing spouse unconditionally and irrevocably agreed that the disposition of the equity interest in the Current VIEs which is held by and registered under the name of his or her spouse shall be made pursuant to the above-mentioned equity pledge agreements, exclusive option agreements, shareholders’ power of attorney and exclusive business cooperation agreement, as amended from time to time. Moreover, the spouse undertook not to make any assertions in relation to such equity interest held by and registered under the name of his or her spouse.

 

D.Property, Plants and Equipment

 

The table below contains a summary of our properties and the properties of the Current VIEs as of the date of December 31, 2023.

 

Location   Space (sq.m.)   Use   Lease Term
Room 1610, No 917, East Longhua Road, Huangpu District, Shanghai, PRC   107.7   Administration   August 1, 2023 to
July 31, 2024
Room 1105, Building D, Junli Commercial Building, Yangcun Street, Wuqing district, Tianjin.   76.4   Administration   September 1, 2022 to
August 31, 2025
No.2416, 24th Floor, Shanghai Building, Jinzhai Modern Industrial Park, Lu’an City, Anhui Province   76.3   Administration   May 1, 2023 to
April 30, 2024

 

We believe that our existing facilities are generally adequate to meet our current needs, but expect to seek additional space as needed to accommodate future growth.

 

ITEM 4A. UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS

 

None.

 

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ITEM 5. OPERATING AND FINANCIAL REVIEW AND PROSPECTS

 

The following discussion of our financial condition and results of operations is based upon, and should be read in conjunction with, our audited consolidated financial statements and the related notes included in this annual report on Form 20-F. This report contains forward-looking statements. See “Forward-Looking Statements” in this annual report. In evaluating our business, you should carefully consider the information provided under the caption “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors” in this annual report on Form 20-F. We caution you that our businesses and financial performance are subject to substantial risks and uncertainties.

 

A.Operating Results

 

During the reporting period, we were a technology-driven long-term apartment rental platform in China, offering young, emerging urban residents conveniently located, ready to move in, and affordable branded apartments as well as facilitating a variety of value-added services. We were one of the pioneers in providing branded rental apartments in China. Under our dispersed lease-and-operate model, we leased apartments from landlords and transform these apartments, mostly from bare-bones condition, into standardized furnished rooms to lease to people seeking affordable residence in cities, following an efficient, technology-driven business process. Our net revenues from Disposed Business primarily consist of rental service revenues, and revenue from various types of fees we charge our tenants for some of our value-added service.

 

On October 31, 2023, we sold all of the equity interest in Haoju to Wangxiancai Limited, a limited company incorporated under the laws of Hong Kong for nominal consideration. As a result of the Disposal, we have no longer conducted the long-term apartment rental business as of the date of this annual report and the results of our disposed long-term apartment rental business are accounted as discontinued operations in accordance with ASC 205-20-45 in the financial statements as of and for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2023 included elsewhere in this annual report.

 

For additional information, see Note 3 – “Disposition of Long-term Apartment Rental Business” to our consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this annual report.

 

We did not general any revenue in FY 2021, FY 2022 and FY 2023 from Continuing Operations. Overall, we incurred a net loss from continuing operations of RMB130.6 million, RMB495.1 million and RMB27.3 million in FY 2021, FY 2022 and FY 2023, respectively.

 

B. Liquidity and Capital Resources

 

During the reporting period, our principal sources of liquidity, which we have used to fund our growth, operations and capital expenditures for our apartments network, have been proceeds from tenants’ rental prepayment, draw-downs under short-term debt and other financing. As of September 30, 2023, we had RMB360,000 in cash and cash equivalents. We did not have any capital commitment as of September 30, 2023.

 

We have been incurring losses from operations since our inception. Our accumulated deficits amounted to RMB3,558.7 million and RMB3,630.0 million (US$497.5 million) as of September 30, 2022 and 2023, respectively. Net cash used in operating activities from continuing operations were RMB 161.4 million, RMB 7.1 million and RMB 24.3 million for FY 2021, FY 2022 and FY 2023, respectively. As of September 30, 2022 and 2023, our current liabilities exceeded current assets by RMB 597.2 million and RMB 643.4 million, respectively. We disposed of our long-term rental apartment rental business in October 2023 and we had no revenues from continuing operations for the years ended September 30, 2021, 2022 and 2023, respectively. Therefore, these conditions considered in aggregate that raise substantial doubt on our ability to continue as a going concern within one year after the date on which the financial statements are issued.

 

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On December 28, 2023, we completed the acquisition of 100% equity interest in Alpha Mind for a consideration of US$180,000,000. The purchase price is payable in the form of the Notes. The Notes have a maturity of 90 days from the closing date, which was subsequently extended to June 30, 2024, an interest rate at an annual rate to 3% per annum and will be secured by all of the issued and outstanding equity of the Alpha Mind and all of the assets of the Alpha Mind, including its consolidated entities. We intend to pay the promissory notes by either using the cash flow generated by our operation or through debt or equity offerings or loans. However we may not be able to obtain financing or fund raising on favorable terms or at all. If we failed to obtain such financing and were unable to perform our payment obligations under the terms of the Notes before the maturity date, the selling shareholders of Alpha Mind may exercise their collateral rights. We will lose control of and no longer be able to consolidate Alpha Mind and our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects will be adversely affected. For details of the risks related to the Notes, see “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors—Risks Related to our Business and Industry— If we are unable to repay or refinance the Notes, we will lose control and will no longer be able to consolidate the results of operation of Alpha Mind. In addition, our level of indebtedness could adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.”

 

In addition to repaying the Notes, our material cash requirements as of September 30, 2023 and any subsequent interim period primarily include expenditure of daily operation, including marketing activities. We intend to meet the cash requirements for the next 12 months through a combination of short-term loan from certain third parties or related parties, issuance of ordinary shares or other equity-linked securities. In addition, with the acquisition of Alpha Mind on December 28, 2023, we will also utilize the cash generated from Alpha Mind’s business operations.

 

These plans and initiatives cannot alleviate the substantial doubt of our ability to continue as a going concern. There can be no assurance that we will be successful in achieving our strategic plans, that our future capital raises will be sufficient to support our ongoing operations, or that any additional financing will be available in a timely manner or with acceptable terms, if at all. If we are unable to raise sufficient financing or events or circumstances occur such that we do not meet our strategic plans, we will be required to reduce certain discretionary spending, or be unable to fund capital expenditures, which would have a material adverse effect on our financial position, results of operations, cash flows, and ability to achieve our intended business objectives.

 

However, future financing requirements will depend on many factors, including the scale and pace of the expansion of our insurance agency network, efficiency in our services and SaaS platform, the expansion of our sales and marketing activities, and potential investments in, or acquisitions of, businesses or technologies. Inability to access financing on favorable terms in a timely manner or at all would materially and adversely affect our business, results of operations, financial condition, and growth prospects.

 

The consolidated financial statements included in this annual report do not include any adjustments that might result from the outcome of this uncertainty. Accordingly, the consolidated financial statements have been prepared on a basis that assumes we will continue as a going concern and which contemplates the realization of assets and satisfaction of liabilities and commitments in the ordinary course of our business.

 

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The following table sets forth a summary of our cash flows for the years indicated:

 

   FY 2021   FY 2022   FY 2023 
   RMB   RMB   RMB   US$ 
   (in thousands) 
Net cash used in operating activities from continuing operations   (161,402)   (7,096)   (24,320)   (3,335)
Net cash provided by (used in) operating activities from discontinued operations   51,741    (32,493)   (15,547)   (2,129)
Net cash used in operating activities   (109,661)   (39,589)   (39,867)   (5,464)
Net cash used in investing activities from continuing operations   (6,484)            
Net cash used in investing activities from discontinued operations   (2)   (11,468)        
Net cash used in investing activities   (6,486)   (11,468)        
Net cash provided by financing activities from continuing operations   115,798    30,616    37,887    5,190 
Net cash provided by (used in) financing activities from discontinued operations   (14,197)   (1,307)        
Net cash provided by financing activities   101,601    29,309    37,887    5,190 
Effect of foreign exchange rate changes   2,032    5,374    203    31 
Net decrease in cash, cash equivalents and restricted cash   (12,514)   (16,374)   (1,777)   (243)
Cash, cash equivalents and restricted cash at the beginning of the year   31,766    19,252    2,878    394 
Cash, cash equivalents and restricted cash at the end of the year   19,252    2,878    1,101    151 

 

Operating Activities

 

Net cash used in operating activities was RMB39.9 million (US$5.5 million) in FY 2023, which comprised a net cash outflow in continuing operations of RMB24.3 million (US$3.3 million) and a net cash outflow in discontinued operations of RMB15.5 million (US$2.1 million).

 

Net cash used in operating activities was RMB39.6 million in FY 2022, which comprised a net cash outflow in continuing operations of RMB7.1 million and a net cash outflow in discontinued operations of RMB32.5 million.

 

Net cash used in operating activities was RMB109.7 million in FY 2021, which comprised a net cash outflow in continuing operations of RMB161.4 million and a net cash inflow in discontinued operations of RMB51.7 million.

 

Investing Activities

 

Net cash used in investing activities was nil in FY 2023.

 

Net cash used in investing activities was RMB11.5 million in FY 2022, reflecting a net cash outflow in discontinued operations of RMB11.5 million.

 

Net cash used in investing activities was RMB6.5 million in FY 2021, primarily due to our payment of RMB6.5 million for asset acquisition in July 2020.

 

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Financing Activities

 

Net cash provided by financing activities was RMB37.9 million (US$5.2 million) in FY 2023, which comprised a net cash inflow in continuing operations of RMB37.9 million (US$5.2 million), primarily due to proceeds received from short-term borrowings.

 

Net cash provided by financing activities was RMB29.3 million in FY 2022. This primarily reflecting a net cash inflow in continuing operations due to (i) the proceeds of RMB20.0 million from issuance of convertible notes, (ii) the proceeds of RMB6.5 million from short-term bank borrowings, and (iii) the proceeds of RMB4.1 million from borrowings from related parties, partially offset by net cash outflow of RMB1.3 million from discontinued operations.

 

Net cash provided by financing activities was RMB101.6 million in FY 2021. This primarily reflecting a net cash inflow in continuing operations due to (i) the proceeds of RMB113.2 million from issuance of convertible notes, and (ii) the proceeds of RMB39.7 million from short-term bank borrowings, partially offset by the repayment of borrowings from related parties of RMB37.1 million and net cash outflow of RMB14.2 million from discontinued operations.

 

Capital Expenditures

 

Our capital expenditures during the reporting period were primarily in connection with renovation of our leased-in apartments and procurement of technology, information and operational software and hardware. Our capital expenditures totaled RMB6.5 million, nil and nil in FY 2021, FY 2022 and FY 2023, respectively. Alpha Mind’s capital expenditures in 2023 were primarily in connection with marketing activities. We will continue to make capital expenditures to meet the expected growth of our business.

 

Impact of Recently Issued Accounting Standards

 

A list of recently issued accounting pronouncements that are relevant to us is included in note 2 “Summary of Principal Accounting Policies—Recent accounting pronouncements” to our consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this annual report.

 

Holding Company Structure

 

We are a holding company with no material operations of our own. We conduct our operations primarily through our subsidiaries in the PRC. In utilizing the proceeds from the initial public offering, as an offshore holding company, we are permitted, under PRC laws and regulations, to provide funding to our PRC subsidiaries only through loans or capital contributions. Subject to satisfaction of applicable government registration and approval requirements, we may extend inter-company loans to our PRC subsidiaries or make additional capital contributions to our PRC subsidiaries to fund their capital expenditures or working capital. For an increase in the registered capital of any of our PRC subsidiaries, we need to complete certain filing and/or registration procedures with competent authorities, which typically take us one or two months. Some local authorities in the PRC require prior approval before such procedures, according to which we shall file requested documents related to the proposed capital increased on the online integrated registration system. If we provide funding to any of our PRC subsidiaries through loans, the total amount of such loans may not exceed the difference between the total investment as approved by the foreign investment authorities and the registered capital of such PRC subsidiary. Such loans should be registered with the SAFE which usually takes no more than 20 working days to complete. The cost of obtaining such approvals or completing such registration is minimal. We cannot assure you that we will be able to obtain these government registrations or approvals on a timely basis, if at all. See “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors—Risks Related to Doing Business in China—Governmental control of currency conversion may limit the ability of us, the PRC subsidiaries to utilize our net revenues effectively and our ability to transfer cash among the group, across borders, and to investors and affect the value of your investment.”

 

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As a holding company, we rely upon dividends paid to us by our subsidiaries in the PRC to pay dividends and to finance any debt we may incur. If our subsidiaries or other consolidated entities or any newly formed subsidiaries or other consolidated entities incur debt on their own behalf in the future, the instruments governing their debt may restrict their ability to pay dividends to us. In addition, our subsidiaries and other consolidated entities are permitted to pay dividends to us only out of their accumulated profits, if any, as determined in accordance with PRC accounting standards and regulations. Pursuant to laws applicable to entities incorporated in the PRC, each of our subsidiaries and other consolidated entities in the PRC must make appropriations from after tax profit to a statutory surplus reserve fund. The reserve fund requires annual appropriation of 10% of after tax profit (as determined under accounting principles generally accepted in the PRC at each year-end) after offsetting accumulated losses from prior years, until such reserve reaches 50% of the subsidiary’s registered capital. The reserve fund can only be used to increase the registered capital and eliminate further losses of the respective companies under PRC regulations. These reserves are not distributable as cash dividends, loans or advances. In addition, due to restrictions under PRC laws and regulations, our PRC subsidiaries and other consolidated entities are restricted in their ability to transfer their net assets to us in the form of dividend payments, loans or advances. Amounts restricted including paid-in capital and statutory reserve funds as determined pursuant to PRC Laws were RMB10,000 and nil as of September 30, 2022 and 2023, respectively.

 

Furthermore, under regulations of the SAFE, the RMB is not convertible into foreign currencies for capital account items, such as loans, repatriation of investments and investments outside of China, unless the prior approval of the SAFE is obtained and prior registration with the SAFE is made.

 

C.Research and Development, Patents, and Licenses, etc.

 

See “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Our SaaS Platform” and “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Intellectual Property.”

 

D.Trend Information

 

Other than as disclosed elsewhere in this annual report, we are not aware of any trends, uncertainties, demands, commitments or events for FY 2023 that are reasonably likely to have a material and adverse effect on our net revenues, income, profitability, liquidity or capital resources, or that would cause the disclosed financial information to be not necessarily indicative of future results of operations or financial conditions.

 

E.Critical Accounting Estimates

 

We prepare our consolidated financial statements in accordance with U.S. GAAP. The preparation of financial statements in conformity with U.S. GAAP requires management to make judgments, estimates and assumptions that affect the reported amounts of assets and liabilities at the date of the financial statements and reported amounts of revenues and expenses during the reporting period. We continually evaluate these judgments and estimates based on our own experience, knowledge and assessment of current business and other conditions.

 

Our expectations regarding the future are based on available information and assumptions that we believe to be reasonable, which together form our basis for making judgments about matters that are not readily apparent from other sources. Since the use of estimates is an integral component of the financial reporting process, our actual results could differ from those estimates. Some of our accounting policies require a higher degree of judgment than others in their application.

 

An accounting policy is considered critical if it requires an accounting estimate to be made based on assumptions about matters that are highly uncertain at the time such estimate is made and if different accounting estimates that reasonably could have been used, or changes in the accounting estimates that are reasonably likely to occur, could materially impact the combined and consolidated financial statements.

 

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When reading our consolidated financial statements, you should consider our selection of critical accounting policies, the judgment and other uncertainties affecting the application of such policies and the sensitivity of reported results to changes in conditions and assumptions.

 

Our critical accounting policies and practices include the following: (i) fair value; (ii) income tax; and (iii) discontinued operations. See Note 2—Summary of Principal Accounting Policies to our consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this annual report for the disclosure of these accounting policies in details. We believe the following accounting estimates involve the most significant judgments used in the preparation of our financial statements.

 

Fair value

 

We define fair value as the price that would be received from selling an asset or paid to transfer a liability in an orderly transaction between market participants at the measurement date. When determining the fair value measurements for assets and liabilities required or permitted to be recorded at fair value, we consider the principal or most advantageous market in which we would transact and we consider assumptions that market participants would use when pricing the asset or liability.

 

The established fair value hierarchy requires an entity to maximize the use of observable inputs and minimize the use of unobservable inputs when measuring fair value. A financial instrument’s categorization within the fair value hierarchy is based upon the lowest level of input that is significant to the fair value measurement. The three levels of inputs may be used to measure fair value include:

 

Level 1 applies to assets or liabilities for which there are quoted prices in active markets for identical assets or liabilities.

 

Level 2 applies to assets or liabilities for which there are inputs other than quoted prices included within Level 1 that are observable for the asset or liability such as quoted prices for similar assets or liabilities in active markets; quoted prices for identical assets or liabilities in markets with insufficient volume or infrequent transactions (less active markets); or model-derived valuations in which significant inputs are observable or can be derived principally from, or corroborated by, observable market data.

 

Level 3 applies to assets or liabilities for which there are unobservable inputs to the valuation methodology that are significant to the measurement of the fair value of the assets or liabilities.

 

Our financial instruments include cash and cash equivalents, other current assets, accounts payable, amounts due to related parties, short-term debt, and other current liabilities.

 

Income taxes

 

Current income taxes are provided on the basis of profit before income tax for financial reporting purposes, adjusted for income and expense items which are not assessable or deductible for income tax purposes, in accordance with the regulations of the relevant tax jurisdictions. We follow the asset and liability method of accounting for income taxes.

 

Deferred income taxes are provided using assets and liabilities method, which requires the recognition of deferred tax assets and liabilities for the expected future tax consequences of events that have been included in the financial statements. Under this method, deferred tax assets and liabilities are determined on the basis of the differences between financial statements and tax basis of assets and liabilities using enacted tax rates in effect for the year in which the differences are expected to reverse.

 

Deferred tax assets are recognized to the extent that these assets are more likely than not to be realized. In making such determination, our management considers all positive and negative evidence, including future reversals of projected future taxable income and results of recent operation.

 

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In order to assess uncertain tax positions, we apply a more likely than not threshold and a two-step approach for the tax position measurement and financial statement recognition. Under the two-step approach, the first step is to evaluate the tax position for recognition by determining if the weight of available evidence indicates that it is more likely than not that the position will be sustained, including resolution of related appeals or litigation processes, if any. The second step is to measure the tax benefit as the largest amount that is more than 50% likely of being realized upon settlement. We recognize interest and penalties, if any, under accrued expenses and other current liabilities on our consolidated balance sheet and under other expenses in its consolidated statement of comprehensive (loss) income. As of September 30, 2022 and 2023, we did not have any significant unrecognized uncertain tax positions.

 

Discontinued operations

 

In accordance with ASU No. 2014-08, Reporting Discontinued Operations and Disclosures of Disposals of Components of an Entity, a disposal of a component of an entity or a group of components of an entity is required to be reported as discontinued operations if the disposal represents a strategic shift that has (or will have) a major effect on an entity’s operations and financial results when the components of an entity meets the criteria in paragraph 205-20-45-1E to be classified as held for sale. When all of the criteria to be classified as held for sale are met, including management, having the authority to approve the action, commits to a plan to sell the entity, the major current assets, other assets, current liabilities, and noncurrent liabilities shall be reported as components of total assets and liabilities separate from those balances of the continuing operations. At the same time, the results of all discontinued operations, less applicable income taxes (benefit), shall be reported as components of net income (loss) separate from the net income (loss) of continuing operations in accordance with ASC 205-20-45.

 

As of September 30, 2023, our long-term apartment rental business in the PRC met all the conditions required in order to be classified as a discontinued operation. Accordingly, the operating results of long-term apartment rental business in the PRC are reported as a loss from discontinued operations in the accompanying consolidated financial statements for all periods presented. In addition, the assets and liabilities related to long-term apartment rental business in the PRC are reported as assets and liabilities of discontinued operations in the accompanying consolidated balance sheets. For details, see Note 3Disposition of Long-term Apartment Rental Business to our consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this annual report.

 

ITEM 6. DIRECTORS, SENIOR MANAGEMENT AND EMPLOYEES

 

A.Directors and Senior Management

 

The following table sets forth information regarding our directors and executive officers as of the date of this annual report.

 

Directors and Executive Officers   Age   Position/Title
Chengcai Qu   41   Chairman of the board of directors, chief executive officer, chief operating officer and vice president
Gang Xie   50   Director, chief technology officer
Jiamin Chen   42   Director and vice president
Zongquan Yang   39   Director
Yanan Zhou   38   Director
Yue Hu   31   Director
Chen Chen   42   Independent director
Zhenkun Wang   42   Independent director
Zhichen (Frank) Sun   40   Chief Financial Officer

 

Mr. Chengcai Qu has been the chairman of our board of directors and chief executive officer since January 2021, our chief operating officer since June 2020, our director since March 2020, and our vice president since 2014. Prior to joining our company, Mr. Qu was a director of the office of public relations at Antai School of Economics and Management of Shanghai Jiao Tong University from November 2006 to November 2013. From June 2004 to October 2006, Mr. Qu was a newspaper reporter specializing in business and management. Mr. Qu received a bachelor’s degree in literature from Shanghai University of Finance and Economics in 2004, and a master’s degree in business administration from Shanghai Jiao Tong University in 2013.

 

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Mr. Gang Xie has been our director and chief technology officer since our inception in 2012. Mr. Xie is also a director of Shanghai Liangzhouban Decoration Co., Ltd. and Shanghai Ziniu Property Management Co., Ltd. Prior to joining our company, he was a platform research and development manager of Shanghai Koss Software Co., Ltd from August 2008 to December 2011. From December 2007 to June 2008, he was a project manager at the mobile phone division of Ping An Insurance (Group) Corporation of China. From February 2005 to November 2007, he was a senior manager and technology director of Handlink Ltd. From September 2000 to January 2005, he was a system architect and project manager of Shanghai Insk Computer Co., Ltd. From August 1995 to August 2000, he was an engineer and project leader of Shanghai Electronic Technology Co., Ltd. Mr. Xie received his bachelor’s degree in engineering in 1995 from Shanghai University of Science and Technology.

 

Mr. Jiamin Chen has been our director and vice president since February 2022, our general manager of the investment and financing department since he joined our Company in July 2019. Prior to joining our company, he was a manger of the personal credit department at Shanghai Branch of China Construction Bank from April 2006 to June 2019. Mr. Chen received his bachelor’s degree in computer science and technology from Shanghai University of Engineering and Technology in 2006.

 

Mr. Zongquan Yang has been our director and vice president since February 2022, our head of product management department and senior manager of IT center since May 2017. Prior to joining our company, he was a project manager of E-Commerce Business and manager of research and development department at Yonyou Software Co., Ltd. from September 2009 to October 2017. Prior to that, Mr. Yang was a development engineer and project manager of Shanghai Hengju Network Technology Co. from September 2005 to October 2009 and a development engineer at Shanghai Youfu Computer Network Co., Ltd. in 2005. Mr. Yang received his bachelor’s degree in computer science and technology from Nankai University in 2012.

 

Ms. Yanan Zhou has been our director since December 2023. Ms. Zhou has served as executive director of investment banking division of Gujia (Beijing) Technology Co., Ltd. since November 2020. Ms. Zhou was a senior financial product manager and CEO assistant at a FinTech company named JianLC from 2018 to 2020. From November 2015 to December 2017, Ms. Zhou worked as a manager of FinTech division in Hfax.com, where she was responsible for overseeing various insurance projects in collaboration with Sunshine Insurance Group Co., Ltd. Prior to that, Ms. Zhou was the senior project manager of financial business division in Horizon Research Group from May 2012 to November 2015. Ms. Zhou received a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2008 and a master’s degree in communication studies in 2011 from Hohai University, respectively. Ms. Zhou also obtained the securities qualification and fund qualification.

 

Ms. Yue Hu has been our director since December 2023. Ms. Hu has served as the senior finance manager in Gujia (Beijing) Technology Co., Ltd. since 2022. Prior to that, Ms. Hu was a junior auditor and a senior auditor at Ernst & Young Hua Ming LLP from 2018 to 2020 and from 2020 to 2022, respectively. Ms. Hu received her bachelor’s degree at accounting from Sichuan University and master’s degree at accounting from the University of Texas at Dallas in 2014 and in 2017, respectively.

 

Mr. Chen Chen has been our independent director since November 2019. Mr. Chen has served as chief financial officer of Yunji Inc. since May 2018. Mr. Chen has more than 16 years of comprehensive experience in audit and consulting services. Prior to joining Yunji, Mr. Chen was a partner at Deloitte, and had been working in Deloitte since July 2002. Mr. Chen is a member of the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (AICPA) and China Institute of Certified Public Accountants (CICPA). Mr. Chen received his bachelor’s degree from Shanghai Jiao Tong University in 2002.

 

Mr. Zhenkun Wang has been our independent director since June 2023. Mr. Wang is the founder and CEO of Shanghai Shiwei Technology Co., Ltd., a company mainly focused on project and product development in enterprise-level metaverse applications, and has been serving as the chairman of its board since January 2015. Mr. Wang received his bachelor’s degree from Shanghai University of Finance and Economics in 2004. Mr. Zhichen (Frank) Sun has been our chief financial officer since January 2020. He served as our financial director from April 2017 to January 2020. Prior to joining our company, Mr. Sun was an audit senior manager of Ernst & Young LLP, Shanghai office from January 2016 to April 2017. From January 2011 to December 2015, he was an audit manager of Deloitte LLP, Calgary office. From July 2005 to December 2010, he was successively a senior auditor and an audit manager of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Certified Public Accountants LLP, Shanghai office. Mr. Sun received his bachelor’s degree in Japanese language and literature from Shanghai International Studies University in 2005. Mr. Sun holds CPA designations in China and Canada.

 

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Board Diversity Disclosure

 

The following information was provided by our directors on a voluntary basis.

 

Board Diversity Matrix (As of date of this annual report)

 

Country of Principal Executive Offices   Shanghai, China
Foreign Private Issuer   Yes
Disclosure Prohibited Under Home Country Law   No
Total Number of Directors   8

 

    Female   Male   Non-Binary   Did not disclose
Part I: Gender Identity                
Directors   2   6   0   0
Part II: Demographic Background                
Underrepresented Individual in Home Country           0    
LGBTQ+           0    
Did Not Disclose Demographic Background           0    

 

B.Compensation

 

For FY 2023, we paid an aggregate of approximately RMB3.48 million (US$0.48 million) in cash to our directors and executive officers. Except as disclosed in this annual report, we have not set aside or accrued any amount to provide pension, retirement or other similar benefits to our executive officers and directors. Our PRC subsidiaries are required by law to make contributions equal to certain percentages of each employee’s salary for his or her pension insurance, medical insurance, unemployment insurance and other statutory benefits and a housing provident fund.

 

Employment Agreements and Indemnification Agreements

 

We have entered into employment agreements with each of our executive officers. Under these agreements, each of our executive officers is employed for a specified time period. We may terminate employment for cause, at any time, for certain acts of the executive officer, such as conviction or plea of guilty to a felony or any crime involving moral turpitude, negligent or dishonest acts to our detriment, or misconduct or a failure to perform agreed duties. If the executive officer otherwise fails to perform agreed duties, we may terminate employment upon 30 day advance written notice. In such case of termination by us, we will provide severance payments to the executive officer as expressly required by applicable law of the jurisdiction where the executive officer is based. The executive officer may resign at any time upon mutual agreement or 30 day advance written notice.

 

Each executive officer has agreed to hold, both during and after the termination or expiry of his or her employment agreement, in strict confidence and not to use, except as required in the performance of his or her duties in connection with the employment or pursuant to applicable law, any of our confidential information or trade secrets, any confidential information or trade secrets of our clients or prospective clients, or the confidential or proprietary information of any third party received by us and for which we have confidential obligations. The executive officers have also agreed to disclose in confidence to us all inventions, designs and trade secrets which they conceive, develop or reduce to practice during the executive officer’s employment with us and to assign all right, title and interest in them to us upon our request.

 

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In addition, each executive officer has agreed to be bound by non-competition and non-solicitation restrictions during the term of his or her employment and typically for two years following the last date of employment. Specifically, each executive officer has agreed not to (i) engage directly or indirectly in any business, including his or her own business, related to the development, operation or sales of any same or similar technologies or products, whether as employee, consultant or otherwise; (ii) approach directly or indirectly our clients or customers for the purpose of doing business of the same or a similar nature to our business with such persons or entities that will harm our business relationships with these persons or entities or for purposes of making such persons or entities limit or terminate their business relationship with us; or (iii) seek directly or indirectly, to solicit the services of any of our employees who is employed by us.

 

We have entered into indemnification agreements with each of our directors and executive officers. Under these agreements, we may agree to indemnify our directors and executive officers against certain liabilities and expenses incurred by such persons in connection with claims made by reason of their being a director or officer of our company.

 

Stock Options and RSUs

 

In September 2019, our board of directors approved our 2019 share incentive plan, or the 2019 Plan, to provide incentives to employees, officers, directors and consultants and promote the success of our business.

 

Further, in November 2022, our board of directors approved our 2022 share incentive plan, or the 2022 Plan, to provide incentives to employees, officers, directors and consultants and promote the success of our business.

 

Stock Options A

 

As of December 31, 2023, we had 1,025 million share options outstanding (“Stock Option A”), which are exercisable into Class B ordinary shares at RMB2.0 per ordinary share. As of December 31, 2023, all the outstanding Stock Options A had vested. All grantees of Stock Options A are restricted from transferring more than 25% of their total converted ordinary shares each year after the exercise date.

 

Stock Options B

 

As of December 31, 2023, we had 2,385 million share options B outstanding (“Stock Option B”), which are exercisable into Class A ordinary shares at RMB2.0 per ordinary share. Stock Options B vested immediately upon the grant-date. All grantees of Stock Options B are restricted from transferring their converted ordinary shares after certain periods subsequent to the date of our initial public offering. If the grantee of Stock Options B resigned from our company before the restricted period lapses, we have the right to repurchase the Stock Options B or ordinary shares at RMB2.0 per Stock Option B or ordinary share.

 

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The following table summarizes, as of December 31, 2023, the outstanding Stock Options A and Stock Options B granted to our directors, officers and other grantees.

 

Name   Ordinary
Shares
Underlying
Award
Granted
    Exercise Price
(per share)
    Date of Grant   Date of
Expiration
Chengcai Qu     *     RMB 2.0     July 31, 2017   December 31, 2025
Zhichen (Frank) Sun     *     RMB 2.0     July 31, 2017   December 31, 2025
Other     2,410,000,000     RMB 2.0     from August 31, 2014 to
July 31, 2017
  from August 30, 2024 to
December 31, 2025
Total     3,410,000,000                  

 

 

*Less than 1% of our total outstanding shares.

 

2019 Share Incentive Plan

 

The 2019 Plan became effective immediately upon the completion of our initial public offering. The maximum number of shares that may be issued under the 2019 Plan is 10% of the total outstanding shares as of the date of the consummation of our initial public offering, which is 142,386,085 ordinary shares before the Share Split we adopted on September 18, 2023.

 

As of December 31, 2023, we had issued 2,500 million RSUs and 12,236 million options under the 2019 Plan. As of December 31, 2023, no RSUs were outstanding and 718 million options were outstanding and exercisable into Class A ordinary shares. All of such options were vested as of December 31, 2023.

 

The following paragraphs describe the principal terms of our share incentive plan:

 

Plan Administration. Our board of directors or a committee of one or more members of our board of directors (the “Committee”) will administer the 2019 Plan. The Committee will determine the participants to receive awards, the nature and the amount of each award to be granted to each participant, and the terms and conditions of each award grant.

 

Type of Awards. The 2019 Plan permits the awards of options, restricted shares, restricted share units or any other type of awards that the Committee decides.

 

Award Agreement. Awards granted under the 2019 Plan are evidenced by an award agreement that sets forth terms, conditions and limitations for each award, which may include the term of the award, the provisions applicable in the event of the grantee’s employment or service terminates, and our authority to unilaterally or bilaterally amend, modify, suspend, cancel or rescind the award.

 

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Eligibility. We may grant awards to employees, consultants, and directors, as determined by the Committee.

 

Vesting Schedule. In general, the Committee determines the vesting schedule, which is specified in the relevant award agreement. Unless otherwise specified in the 2019 Plan, the term of any award granted under the 2019 Plan shall not exceed ten (10) years.

 

Exercise of Options. Subject to any specific designation in the 2019 Plan, the Committee determines the exercise price for each award, which is stated in the relevant award agreement. Unless otherwise specified in the 2019 Plan, the maximum exercisable term of options is ten years from the date of a grant.

 

Transfer Restrictions. Awards may not be transferred in any manner by the recipient except as otherwise provided in the 2019 Plan, by applicable law and by relevant award agreement.

 

Termination and Amendment. Unless terminated earlier, the 2019 Plan has a term of ten years. Subject to any specific designation in the 2019 Plan, our board of directors has the authority to amend or terminate the 2019 Plan; provided, however, that any amendment or modification of the maximum number of shares that may be issued under the 2019 Plan shall be determined by at least two-thirds of votes cast by directors in a duly constituted meeting (which, for this purpose, shall include all independent directors to be quorate), including affirmative votes from all independent directors. However, no such action may adversely affect in any material way any awards previously granted unless agreed by the recipient, unless otherwise specified in the 2019 Plan.

 

2022 Share Incentive Plan

 

In November 2022, our board of directors has approved and adopted the 2022 Plan. The maximum number of shares available for issuance under the 2022 Plan is 2,500,000,000 Class B ordinary shares of the Company. The board of directors has also approved the issuance of xxx class B ordinary shares to Golden Stream Ltd., the current ESOP Platform of the Company, which is holding these shares (representing 8.8% of the total outstanding share capital and 49.1% of the voting power of the Company). Golden Stream Ltd. and its controlling shareholder Mr. Chengcai Qu have agreed to act upon the instructions of a senior management committee of the Company, consisting of Chengcai Qu, Zhichen (Frank) Sun and Jiamin Chen determined on a unanimous basis in relation to the voting and, prior to the vesting of the shares to the relevant grantee of the share-based awards under the 2022 Plan, the disposition of the shares. The shares held by Golden Stream Ltd. are reserved for share-based awards that the Company may grant in the future under the 2022 Plan. As of December 31, 2023, no share-based awards have been granted under the 2022 Plan.

 

The principal terms of the 2022 Plan are substantially the same as those of the 2019 Plan.

 

C.Board Practices

 

Our board of directors consists of eight (8) directors. A director is not required to hold any shares in our company to qualify to serve as a director. A director may vote with respect to any contract, proposed contract or arrangement notwithstanding that he may be interested therein, and if he does so his vote shall be counted and he may be counted in the quorum at any meeting of our directors at which any such contract or proposed contract or arrangement is considered, provided (a) such director, if his interest (whether direct or indirect) in such contract or arrangement is material, has declared the nature of his interest at the earliest meeting of the board at which it is practicable for him to do so, either specifically or by way of a general notice and (b) if such contract or arrangement is a transaction with a related party, such transaction has been approved by the audit committee. The directors may exercise all the powers of the company to borrow money, to mortgage or charge its undertaking, property and uncalled capital, and to issue debentures or other securities whenever money is borrowed or as security for any debt, liability or obligation of the company or of any third party. None of our non-executive directors has a service contract with us that provides for benefits upon termination of service.

 

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Committees of the Board of Directors

 

We have established three committees under the board of directors: an audit committee, a compensation committee and a nominating and corporate governance committee. We have adopted a charter for each of the three committees. Each committee’s members and functions are described below.

 

Audit Committee. Our audit committee consists of Chen Chen and Zhenkun Wang. Chen Chen is the chairman of our audit committee. We have determined that each of Chen Chen and Zhenkun Wang satisfies the “independence” requirements of Rule 5605(c)(2) of the Listing Rules of the NASDAQ and Rule 10A 3 under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. We have determined that Chen Chen qualifies as an “audit committee financial expert.” The audit committee oversees our accounting and financial reporting processes and the audits of the financial statements of our company. The audit committee is responsible for, among other things:

 

appointing the independent auditors and pre-approving all auditing and non-auditing services permitted to be performed by the independent auditors;

 

reviewing with the independent auditors any audit problems or difficulties and management’s response;

 

discussing the annual audited financial statements with management and the independent auditors;

 

reviewing the adequacy and effectiveness of our accounting and internal control policies and procedures and any steps taken to monitor and control major financial risk exposures;

 

reviewing and approving all proposed related party transactions;

 

meeting separately and periodically with management and the independent auditors; and

 

monitoring compliance with our code of business conduct and ethics, including reviewing the adequacy and effectiveness of our procedures to ensure proper compliance.

 

Compensation Committee. Our compensation committee consists of Chengcai Qu, Jiamin Chen and Gang Xie. Chengcai Qu is the chairman of our compensation committee. The compensation committee assists the board in reviewing and approving the compensation structure, including all forms of compensation, relating to our directors and executive officers. The compensation committee is responsible for, among other things:

 

reviewing and approving, or recommending to the board for its approval, the compensation for our chief executive officer and other executive officers;

 

reviewing and recommending to the board for determination with respect to the compensation of our non-employee directors;

 

reviewing periodically and approving any incentive compensation or equity plans, programs or similar arrangements; and

 

selecting compensation consultant, legal counsel or other advisers only after taking into consideration all factors relevant to that person’s independence from management.

 

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Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee. Our nominating and corporate governance committee consists of Chengcai Qu, Gang Xie and Chen Chen. Chengcai Qu is the chairman of our nominating and corporate governance committee. The nominating and corporate governance committee assists the board of directors in selecting individuals qualified to become our directors and in determining the composition of the board and its committees. The nominating and corporate governance committee is responsible for, among other things:

 

selecting and recommending nominees for election by the shareholders or appointment by the board;

 

reviewing annually with the board the current composition of the board with regards to characteristics such as independence, knowledge, skills, experience and diversity;

 

making recommendations on the frequency and structure of board meetings and monitoring the functioning of the committees of the board; and

 

advising the board periodically with regards to significant developments in the law and practice of corporate governance as well as our compliance with applicable laws and regulations, and making recommendations to the board on all matters of corporate governance and on any remedial action to be taken.

 

Duties of Directors

 

Under Cayman Islands law, our directors owe fiduciary duties to our company, including a duty of loyalty, a duty to act honestly and a duty to act in what they consider in good faith to be in our best interests. Our directors must also exercise their powers only for a proper purpose. A director must exercise the skill and care of a reasonably diligent person having both – (a) the general knowledge, skill and experience that may reasonably be expected of a person in the same position (an objective test), and (b) if greater, the general knowledge, skill and experience that that director actually possesses (a subjective test). In fulfilling their duty of care to us, our directors must ensure compliance with our third amended and restated memorandum and articles of association, as amended and restated from time to time, and the class rights vested thereunder in the holders of the shares. Our company has the right to seek damages if a duty owed by our directors is breached. A shareholder may in certain limited exceptional circumstances have the right to seek damages in our name if a duty owed by the directors is breached.

 

Our board of directors has all the powers necessary for managing, and for directing and supervising, our business affairs. The functions and powers of our board of directors include, among others:

 

convening shareholders’ annual and extraordinary general meetings;

 

declaring dividends and distributions;

 

appointing officers and determining the term of office of the officers;

 

exercising the borrowing powers of our company and mortgaging the property of our company; and

 

approving the transfer of shares in our company, including the registration of such shares in our register of members.

 

Terms of Directors and Officers

 

The number of directors shall not be less than three (3). No person may be nominated for, or appointed as, a director, nor removed from any such appointment as a director, unless such nomination, appointment or removal has been approved by our nominating and corporate governance committee prior to such nomination, appointment or removal.

 

Generally, (i) any person appointed as a director as of the closing date of our IPO shall hold office for a period of three (3) years from the closing date of our initial public offering, or such other term as may be approved in the resolution appointing them; and (ii) any person appointed as a director after the closing date of our IPO shall hold office for a period of three (3) years from the date of such appointment, or such other term as may be approved in the resolution appointing them. Each director shall hold office until the expiration of his term, or his resignation, removal or retirement from our board of directors, or his disqualification as a director.

 

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A retiring director shall be eligible for re-election from the date commencing six (6) months prior to the date of expiry of his term of office, and shall continue to act as a director throughout the meeting at which his re-election is considered. Where the retirement of any director would cause the number of directors to fall below the minimum number required pursuant to our amended and restated articles of association, then such director shall continue to act as a director until the appointment of such additional director(s) as would not result in the director’s retirement causing the number of directors to fall below the minimum number required pursuant to our amended and restated articles of association, at which time they shall retire.

 

Subject to our amended and restated articles of association and the applicable Law, the shareholders may by ordinary resolution elect any person to be a director either to fill a casual vacancy or as an addition to the existing board of directors. In addition, the directors shall have the power from time to time and at any time, by the affirmative vote of a majority of the directors present and voting at a meeting of our board of directors, to appoint any person as a director to fill a casual vacancy on our board of directors or as an addition to the existing board of directors.

 

No director shall be required to hold any shares of our company by way of qualification and a director who is not a shareholder shall be entitled to receive notice of and to attend and speak at any general meeting of our company and of all classes of shares of our company.

 

Subject to any provision to the contrary in our amended and restated memorandum and articles of association, a director may, at any time before the expiration of his or her period of office (notwithstanding anything in our amended and restated memorandum and articles of association or in any agreement between our company and such director (but without prejudice to any claim for damages under any such agreement)) be removed by way of either (a) a special resolution of the shareholders; or (b) the affirmative vote of two-thirds of the other directors present and voting at a board meeting; or (c) a resolution in writing (which complies with the requirements of the provisos contained in article 119 of our amended and restated memorandum and articles of association) signed by all the directors other than the director being removed.

 

The office of a director shall be vacated if the director (a) resigns his or her office by notice delivered to our company at the office or tendered at a meeting of our board of directors, or (b) becomes of unsound mind or dies, or (c) without special leave of absence from our board of directors, is absent from meetings of our board of directors for three (3) consecutive times, unless our board of directors resolves that his or her office not be vacated, or (d) becomes bankrupt or has a receiving order made against him or her or suspends payment or compounds with his or her creditors, or (e) is prohibited by law from being a director, or (f) ceases to be a director by virtue of any provision of the statutes or is removed from office pursuant to our amended and restated memorandum and articles of association, or (g) for any director that is not an independent director, without special leave of absence from our board of directors, is absent from more than fifty per cent (50%) of our weekly management meetings in any financial year, unless our board of directors resolves that his or her office not be vacated; or (h) for any director that is not an independent director, without special leave of absence from our board of directors, is present at the premises of our company, or any of our subsidiaries, for less than 60 business days in any financial year, unless our board of directors resolves that his or her office not be vacated.

 

Each director shall use his or her best efforts to attend all meetings of our board of directors. Any director may at any time appoint another director to be his or her alternate director. Any such appointment shall be in respect of a specific meeting of directors only and such appointment shall automatically cease upon termination of such meeting. An alternate director may also be removed as an alternate director at any time by the director who appoints him or her.

 

D.Employees

 

As of September 30, 2023, we had 19 employees. Substantially all of our employees are based in China. The table below shows the number of our employees by function as of September 30, 2023.

 

Function  Number of
Employees
 
Administration   14 
IT   3 
Marketing   2 
Total   19 

 

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On October 31, 2023,we disposed of all of our equity interest in Haoju, which carried our long-term rental business in the PRC. We acquired Alpha Mind, an insurance agency and insurance technology business in the PRC, on December 28, 2023. As of December 31, 2023, we and the Current VIEs had 56 employees. Substantially all of our employees and the employees of the Current VIEs are based in China. The table below shows the number of our employees and the employees of the Current VIEs by function as of December 31, 2023. 

 

Function  Number of Employees  
Administration  39  
IT  1  
Marketing  16  
Total  56  

 

Our success depends on our ability to attract, motivate, train and retain qualified employees. We believe we offer our employees and the employees of the Current VIEs competitive compensation packages and an environment that encourages self-development and creativity. As a result, we have generally been successful in attracting and retaining qualified employees. We believe that we maintain a good working relationship with our employees and the employees of the Current VIEs, and we have not experienced any material labor disputes in the past. None of our employees and the employees of the Current VIEs are represented by labor unions.

 

As required by regulations in China, we and Current VIEs participate in various employee social security plans that are organized by municipal and provincial governments for our PRC-based employees, including pension insurance, unemployment insurance, maternity insurance, work-related injury insurance, medical insurance and housing provident fund. We and Current VIEs are required under PRC law to make contributions to employee benefit plans occasionally for our PRC-based employees at specified percentages of their salaries, bonuses and certain allowances of such employees, up to a maximum amount specified by local governments in China.

 

We and Current VIEs enter into standard employment agreements with these employees. We and Current VIEs also enter into standard confidentiality and non-compete agreements with these employees in accordance with common market practice.

 

E.Share Ownership

 

Except as specifically noted, the following table sets forth information with respect to the beneficial ownership of our ordinary shares as of December 31, 2023 by:

 

each of our directors and executive officers; and

 

each person known to us to beneficially own more than 5% of our total outstanding ordinary shares.

 

We have adopted a dual class ordinary share structure. The calculations in the table below are based on 2,837,892,046,400 ordinary shares outstanding as of the date of this annual report, consisting of 2,587,892,046,400 Class A ordinary shares and 250,000,000,000 Class B ordinary shares.

 

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Beneficial ownership is determined in accordance with the rules and regulations of the SEC. In computing the number of shares beneficially owned by a person and the percentage ownership of that person, we have included shares that the person has the right to acquire within 60 days of the date of this annual report, including through the exercise of any option, warrant or other right or the conversion of any other security. These shares, however, are not included in the computation of the percentage ownership of any other person.

 

   Class A
ordinary shares
   Class B
Ordinary Shares
   Total ordinary
shares on an as-
converted basis
   Aggregate
voting
power***
 
   Number %   %   Number   %   Number   %   % 
Directors and Executive Officers**:                                   
Chengcai Qu (1)   *    *            *    *    * 
Gang Xie                            
Jiamin Chen (1)                            
Zongquan Yang                            
Yanan Zhou                            
Yue Hu                            
Chen Chen                            
Zhenkun Wang                            
Zhichen (Frank) Sun (1)   *    *            *    *    * 
All Directors and Executive Officers as a Group (2)           2,500,000,000    100.0%   2,500,000,000    8.80%   49.10%
Principal Shareholders:                                   
Golden Stream Ltd.(1)   *    *    2,500,000,000    100.0%   2,500,000,000    8.80%   49.10%

 

 

*Less than 1% of our total outstanding shares.

 

**The business address of our directors and executive officers is Room 1610, No.917, East Longhua Road, Huangpu District, Shanghai, 200023, People’s Republic of China.

 

***For each person or group included in this column, percentage of total voting power represents voting power based on both Class A and Class B ordinary shares held by such person or group with respect to all outstanding shares of our Class A and Class B ordinary shares as a single class and on an as-converted basis. Each Class A ordinary shares is entitled to one vote per share. Each Class B ordinary share is entitled to ten (10) votes per share. Our Class B ordinary shares are convertible at any time by the holder into Class A ordinary shares on a one-for-one basis.

 

  (1) The shares beneficially owned by Golden Stream Ltd. represents 2,500,000,000 Class B ordinary shares directly held by Golden Stream Ltd., the current ESOP Platform of the Company. Golden Stream Ltd. holds the Shares underlying the share-based awards pursuant to the Company’s 2022 Plan. Mr. Chengcai Qu is Golden Stream Ltd. ’s sole shareholder. Golden Stream Ltd. and Mr. Chengcai Qu have agreed to act upon the instructions of a senior management committee of the Company consisting of Chengcai Qu, Zhichen (Frank) Sun and Jiamin Chen determined on a unanimous basis in relation to the voting and, prior to the vesting of the Shares to the relevant grantee of the share-based awards the Company may grant under the 2022 Plan, the disposition of these Class B ordinary shares.

 

 

(2)Includes 2,500,000,000 Class B ordinary shares held by Golden Stream Ltd. (see footnote (1) above).

 

To our knowledge, 1,668,403,875,000 Class A ordinary shares, representing approximately 58.8% of our total outstanding ordinary shares, were held by one record shareholder with registered addresses in the United States, our depositary, The Bank of New York Mellon. We are not aware of any arrangement that may, at a subsequent date, result in a change of control of our company.

 

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F.Disclosure of Registrant’s Action to Recover Erroneously Awarded Compensation.

 

We have adopted a policy relating to recovery of erroneously awarded compensation (the “Clawback Policy”), a form of which is included as Exhibit 97.1 attached herein.

 

During or after FY2023, we were not required to prepare an accounting restatement that required recovery of erroneously awarded compensation pursuant to the Clawback Policy. As of September 30, 2023, there was no outstanding balance of erroneously awarded compensation to be recovered from the application of the Clawback Policy to a prior restatement.

 

ITEM 7. MAJOR SHAREHOLDERS AND RELATED PARTY TRANSACTIONS

 

A.Major Shareholders

 

Please refer to “Item 6. Directors, Senior Management and Employees—E. Share Ownership.”

 

B.Related Party Transactions

 

Contractual Arrangements with the Current VIEs and Their Shareholders

 

PRC laws and regulations restrict foreign ownership and investment in value-added telecommunications services in China. As a result, we conducted certain business through Huaming Insurance and Huaming Yunbao, the Current VIEs, based on a series of contractual arrangements. See “Item 4. Information on the Company — C. Organizational Structure — Contractual Arrangements with the Current VIEs and Their Shareholders” for details.

 

Employment Agreements and Indemnification Agreements

 

See “Item 6. Directors, Senior Management and Employees—B. Compensation—Employment Agreements and Indemnification Agreements.”

 

Share Incentives

 

See “Item 6. Directors, Senior Management and Employees—B. Compensation—Stock Options and RSUs.”

 

Transaction with Wangxiancai Limited

 

On October 26, 2021, December 17, 2021 and October 31, 2023, we transferred all of our equity interest in the Former WFOE, Q&K HK, Haoju, respectively, to Wangxiancai Limited (the “Equity Transfer”), which was beneficially owned by the legal representative and executive director of one of our subsidiaries, a related party, for nominal consideration. The consideration was nominal value because Q&K HK, Former WFOE and Haoju were loss-making and had net liabilities and the possibility that they would generate cash flow in the future was minimal considering (i) decreasing demand for long-term rental apartments in areas they operated due to population outflow from these areas; and (ii) increasing operating costs as a percentage of revenue as it had incurred certain fixed costs and experienced decreasing revenue streams. The Former WFOE was a wholly-owned subsidiary of Q&K HK, and had a series of contractual arrangements with our Former VIE, Shanghai Qingke E-commerce Co., Ltd. through which we carried out certain rental apartment operation business prior to the Equity Transfer. The Equity Transfer was performed to dedicate our business resources to operate higher-quality rental apartments through our subsidiaries in China. Wangxiancai Limited ceased to be a related party of the Group in October 2023.

 

Transactions with Key Space (S) Pte Ltd.  

 

In 2022, we entered into a loan agreement with Key Space (S) Pte. Ltd, with a total principal amount of RMB4.1 million, in connection with our business operation. In FY 2021, FY 2022 and FY 2023, amounts due to Key Space (S) Pte Ltd. were nil, RMB4.1 million and RMB 4.5 million, respectively. The balance due to related parties represented borrowings from Key Space which were due within 12 months from borrowing, which subsequently extended and are due by June 2024.

 

C.Interests of Experts and Counsel

 

Not applicable.

 

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ITEM 8. FINANCIAL INFORMATION

 

A.Consolidated Statements and Other Financial Information

 

We have appended consolidated financial statements filed as part of this annual report.

 

Legal Proceedings

 

We are currently not a party to any material legal or administrative proceedings. From time to time, we may be subject to legal, regulatory and/or administrative proceedings relating to third-party and principal intellectual property infringement claims, contract disputes involving suppliers and customers, consumer protection claims, claims relating to data and privacy protection, employment related disputes, unfair competition and other matters in the ordinary course of our business.

 

Dividend Policy

 

Our board of directors has discretion on whether to distribute dividends, subject to certain restrictions under Cayman Islands law, namely that our company may only pay dividends out of profits or share premium, and provided always that in no circumstances may a dividend be paid if this would result in our company being unable to pay its debts as they fall due in the ordinary course of business. Even if our board of directors decides to pay dividends, the form, frequency and amount will depend upon our future operations and earnings, capital requirements and surplus, general financial condition, contractual restrictions and other factors that the board of directors may deem relevant.

 

We do not have any plan to pay any cash dividends on our ordinary shares in the foreseeable future and intend to retain most, if not all, of our available funds and any future earnings to operate and expand our business.

 

We are a holding company incorporated in the Cayman Islands. We may rely on dividends from our subsidiaries in China for our cash requirements, including any payment of dividends to our shareholders. PRC regulations may restrict the ability of our PRC subsidiary to pay dividends to us. See “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Regulations—Regulations Relating to Dividend Distribution” and “Item 10. Additional Information—E. Taxation—People’s Republic of China Taxation.”

 

If we pay any dividends on our ordinary shares, we will pay those dividends which are payable in respect of the Class A ordinary shares underlying our ADSs to the depositary, as the registered holder of such Class A ordinary shares, and the depositary then will pay such amounts to our ADS holders in proportion to the Class A ordinary shares underlying the ADSs held by such ADS holders, subject to the terms of the deposit agreement, including the fees and expenses payable thereunder. See “Item 12. Description of Securities Other Than Equity Securities—D. American Depositary Shares.” Cash dividends on our ordinary shares, if any, will be paid in U.S. dollars.

 

B.Significant Changes

 

Except as disclosed elsewhere in this annual report, we have not experienced any significant changes since the date of our audited consolidated financial statements included in this annual report.

 

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ITEM 9. THE OFFER AND LISTING

 

A.Offering and Listing Details

 

As of September 30, 2023, our ADSs, each representing 150 of our Class A ordinary shares, have been listed on the NASDAQ Global Market since November 5, 2019. Our ADSs trade under the symbol “FLJ”. In FY 2021, FY 2022 and FY 2023, no significant trading suspensions occurred.

 

B.Plan of Distribution

 

Not applicable.

 

C.Markets

 

The principal trading market for our ADSs is the NASDAQ Global Market.

 

D.Selling Shareholders

 

Not applicable.

 

E.Dilution

 

Not applicable.

 

F.Expenses of the Issue

 

Not applicable.

 

ITEM 10. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

 

A.Share Capital

 

Not applicable.

 

B.Memorandum and Articles of Association

 

We incorporate by reference into this annual report “Item 10. Additional Information—B. Memorandum and Articles of Association” in our Shell Company Report on Form 20-F (File Number: 001-39111) filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on December 29, 2023.

 

C.Material Contracts

 

The following summarizes each material contract, other than contracts entered into in the ordinary course of business, to which we or any subsidiary of ours is a party for the immediately preceding two years.

 

Lianlian Equity Acquisition Agreement. On September 29, 2023, we entered into an equity acquisition agreement with Lianlian Holdings Inc. (“Lianlian”) and certain of Lianlian’s shareholders to acquire 95% of the issued and outstanding shares in Lianlian for an aggregate purchase price of RMB1,800,000,000. The purchase price consists of cash and newly issued Class A ordinary shares of the Company, the exact portion of which is determined by the Company at the closing of this acquisition. On December 28, 2023, we announced that we have, with mutual consents, terminated such equity acquisition agreement.

 

Disposal Agreement. On October 31, 2023, we entered into an equity transfer agreement on October 31, 2023 to sell all of our equity interest in our indirectly wholly-owned subsidiary Haoju (Shanghai) Artificial Intelligence Technology Co., Ltd., a limited company incorporated under the laws of PRC, to Wangxiancai Limited, a limited company incorporated under the laws of Hong Kong, for nominal consideration.

 

Alpha Mind Equity Acquisition Agreement. On November 22, 2023, we entered into an equity acquisition agreement with Alpha Mind and Alpha Mind’s shareholders to acquire all the issued and outstanding shares in Alpha Mind for an aggregate purchase price of US$180,000,000 or RMB equivalent. After the completion of this acquisition on December 29, 2023, Alpha Mind became a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Company. At Closing, we delivered to the sellers the Notes in an aggregate amount equal to the purchase price. The Notes have a maturity of 90 days from the closing date, which was subsequently extended to June 30, 2024 , and are secured by all of the issued and outstanding equity of Alpha Mind and all of the assets of Alpha Mind and its subsidiaries. This agreement contains representations, warranties, covenants and closing conditions of each of the parties thereto that are customary for transactions of this type.

 

Other than the above, we have not entered into any material contracts other than in the ordinary course of business and other than those described in “Item 4. Information on the Company,” “Item 7. Major Shareholders and Related Party Transactions—B. Related Party Transactions,” or elsewhere in this annual report on Form 20-F.

 

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D.Exchange Controls

 

See “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Regulations—Regulations Relating to Foreign Exchange.”

 

E.Taxation

 

The following summary of the material Cayman Islands, PRC and U.S. federal income tax consequences of an investment in ADSs or Class A ordinary shares is based upon laws and relevant interpretations thereof in effect as of the date of this annual report, all of which are subject to change. This summary does not deal with all possible tax consequences relating to an investment in ADSs or Class A ordinary shares, such as the tax consequences under U.S. state and local tax laws or under the tax laws of jurisdictions other than the Cayman Islands, the People’s Republic of China and the United States.

 

Cayman Islands Taxation

 

The Cayman Islands currently levies no taxes on individuals or corporations based upon profits, income, gains or appreciation and there is no taxation in the nature of inheritance tax or estate duty.

 

Pursuant to the Tax Concessions Act of the Cayman Islands, we have obtained an undertaking from the Governor in Council: (a) that no law which is enacted in the Cayman Islands imposing any tax to be levied on profits or income or gains or appreciations shall apply to us or our operations; and (b) that the aforesaid tax or any tax in the nature of estate duty or inheritance tax shall not be payable on the shares, debentures or other obligations of us. The undertaking is for a period of twenty years from March 8, 2018.

 

Payments of dividends and capital in respect of the shares of our company will not be subject to taxation in the Cayman Islands and no withholding will be required on the payment of a dividend or capital to any holder of the shares, nor will gains derived from the disposal of the ordinary shares be subject to Cayman Islands income or corporation tax.

 

Certain stamp duties may be applicable, from time to time, on certain instruments executed in or brought into the Cayman Islands. No stamp duty is payable in the Cayman Islands on transfers of shares of Cayman Islands companies except those which hold interests in land in the Cayman Islands.

 

People’s Republic of China Taxation

 

Under the PRC Enterprise Income Tax Law and its implementation rules, an enterprise established outside of the PRC with a “de facto management body” within the PRC is considered a resident enterprise and will be subject to the enterprise income tax at the rate of 25% on its global income. The implementation rules define the term “de facto management body” as the body that exercises full and substantial control over and overall management of the business, productions, personnel, accounts and properties of an enterprise. In April 2009, the State Administration of Taxation issued a circular, known as Circular 82, which provides certain specific criteria for determining whether the “de facto management body” of a PRC controlled enterprise that is incorporated offshore is located in China. Although this circular only applies to offshore enterprises controlled by PRC enterprises or PRC enterprise groups, not those controlled by PRC individuals or foreigners, the criteria set forth in the circular may reflect the State Administration of Taxation’s general position on how the “de facto management body” test should be applied in determining the tax resident status of all offshore enterprises. According to Circular 82, an offshore incorporated enterprise controlled by a PRC enterprise or a PRC enterprise group will be regarded as a PRC tax resident by virtue of having its “de facto management body” in China only if all of the following conditions are met: (i) the primary location of the day to day operational management is in the PRC; (ii) decisions relating to the enterprise’s financial and human resource matters are made or are subject to approval by organizations or personnel in the PRC; (iii) the enterprise’s primary assets, accounting books and records, company seals, and board and shareholder resolutions, are located or maintained in the PRC; and (iv) at least 50% of voting board members or senior executives habitually reside in the PRC.

 

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We do not believe that FLJ Group Limited meets all of the conditions above. FLJ Group Limited is a company incorporated outside the PRC. As a holding company, its key assets are its ownership interests in its subsidiaries, and its key assets are located, and its records (including the resolutions of its board of directors and the resolutions of its shareholders) are maintained, outside the PRC. For the same reasons, we believe our other entities outside of China are not PRC resident enterprises either. However, the tax resident status of an enterprise is subject to determination by the PRC tax authorities and uncertainties remain with respect to the interpretation of the term “de facto management body.” There can be no assurance that the PRC government will ultimately take a view that is consistent with ours.

 

However, if the PRC tax authorities determine that FLJ Group Limited is a PRC resident enterprise for enterprise income tax purposes, we may be required to withhold a 10% withholding tax from dividends we pay to our shareholders that are Non-Resident Enterprises, including the holders of our ADSs. Such 10% tax rate could be reduced by applicable tax treaties or similar arrangements between China and the jurisdiction of our shareholders. For example, for shareholders eligible for the benefits of the tax treaty between China and Hong Kong, the tax rate is reduced to 5% for dividends if relevant conditions are met. In addition, Non-Resident Enterprise shareholders (including our ADS holders) may be subject to a 10% PRC tax on gains realized on the sale or other disposition of ADSs or ordinary shares, if such income is treated as sourced from within the PRC. It is unclear whether our non-PRC individual shareholders (including our ADS holders) would be subject to any PRC tax on dividends or gains obtained by such non-PRC individual shareholders in the event we are determined to be a PRC resident enterprise. If any PRC tax were to apply to such dividends or gains, it would generally apply at a rate of 20% unless a reduced rate is available under an applicable tax treaty. However, it is also unclear whether non-PRC shareholders of FLJ Group Limited would be able to claim the benefits of any tax treaties between their country of tax residence and the PRC in the event that FLJ Group Limited is treated as a PRC resident enterprise.

 

Provided that our Cayman Islands holding company, FLJ Group Limited, is not deemed to be a PRC resident enterprise, holders of our ADSs and Class A ordinary shares who are not PRC residents will not be subject to PRC income tax on dividends distributed by us or gains realized from the sale or other disposition of our shares or ADSs. However, under Circular 7, where a Non-Resident Enterprise conducts an “indirect transfer” by transferring taxable assets, including, in particular, equity interests in a PRC resident enterprise, indirectly by disposing of the equity interests of an overseas holding company, the non-resident enterprise, being the transferor, or the transferee or the PRC entity which directly owned such taxable assets may report to the relevant tax authority such indirect transfer. Using a “substance over form” principle, the PRC tax authority may disregard the existence of the overseas holding company if it lacks a reasonable commercial purpose and was established for the purpose of reducing, avoiding or deferring PRC tax. As a result, gains derived from such indirect transfer may be subject to PRC enterprise income tax, and the transferee would be obligated to withhold the applicable taxes, currently at a rate of 10% for the transfer of equity interests in a PRC resident enterprise. We and our non-PRC resident investors may be at risk of being required to file a return and being taxed under Circular 7, and we may be required to expend valuable resources to comply with Bulletin 37, or to establish that we should not be taxed under Circular 7 and Bulletin 37. See “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors—Risks Related to Doing Business in China—Our shareholders face uncertainties with respect to indirect transfers of equity interests in PRC resident enterprises by their non-PRC holding companies.”

 

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United States Federal Income Tax Considerations

 

The following is a summary of material U.S. federal income tax considerations that are likely to be relevant to the purchase, ownership and disposition of our Class A ordinary shares or ADSs by a U.S. Holder (as defined below).

 

This summary is based on provisions of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, or the “Code,” and regulations, rulings and judicial interpretations thereof, in force as of the date hereof. Those authorities may be changed at any time, perhaps retroactively, so as to result in U.S. federal income tax consequences different from those summarized below.

 

This summary is not a comprehensive discussion of all of the tax considerations that may be relevant to a particular investor’s decision to purchase, hold, or dispose of Class A ordinary shares or ADSs. In particular, this summary is directed only to U.S. Holders that hold Class A ordinary shares or ADSs as capital assets and does not address all of the tax consequences that may be applicable to U.S. Holders who may be subject to special tax rules, such as banks, brokers or dealers in securities or currencies, traders in securities electing to mark-to-market, financial institutions, insurance companies, tax exempt entities, regulated investment companies, partnerships (including any entities or arrangements that are treated as partnerships for U.S. federal income tax purposes) and the partners therein, holders that own or are treated as owning 10% or more of our shares (measured by vote or value), persons holding Class A ordinary shares or ADSs as part of a hedging or conversion transaction or a straddle, or persons whose functional currency is not the U.S. dollar. Moreover, this summary does not address state, local or non-U.S. taxes, the U.S. federal estate and gift taxes, or the Medicare contribution tax applicable to net investment income of certain non-corporate U.S. Holders, or alternative minimum tax consequences of acquiring, holding or disposing of Class A ordinary shares or ADSs.

 

For purposes of this summary, a “U.S. Holder” is a beneficial owner of Class A ordinary shares or ADSs that is a citizen or resident of the United States or a U.S. domestic corporation or that otherwise is subject to U.S. federal income taxation on a net income basis in respect of such Class A ordinary shares or ADSs.

 

You should consult your own tax advisors about the consequences of the acquisition, ownership and disposition of the Class A ordinary shares or ADSs, including the relevance to your particular situation of the considerations discussed below and any consequences arising under non-U.S., state, local or other tax laws.

 

ADSs

 

In general, a U.S. Holder of ADSs will be treated, for U.S. federal income tax purposes, as the beneficial owner of the underlying Class A ordinary shares that are represented by those ADSs.

 

Passive Foreign Investment Company Classification

 

Special U.S. tax rules apply to companies that are considered to be PFICs. We will be classified as a PFIC in a particular taxable year if either

 

75% or more of our gross income for the taxable year is passive income; or
50% or more of the value of our assets (generally determined on the basis of a quarterly average) is attributable to assets that produce or are held for the production of passive income.

 

For this purpose, passive income generally includes dividends, interest, royalties and rents (other than royalties and rents derived in the active conduct of a trade or business and not derived from a related person) and the excess of gains over losses from the disposition of assets that produce passive income. Goodwill is treated as an active asset under the PFIC rules to the extent attributable to activities that produce active income. Cash generally is a passive asset for these purposes. If we own at least 25% (by value) of the stock of another corporation, for purposes of determining whether we are a PFIC, we will be treated as owning our proportionate share of the other corporation’s assets and receiving our proportionate share of the other corporation’s income.

 

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Based on our financial statements, the composition of our income and assets, the manner in which we conduct our business, the relevant market data and our current expectations regarding the value and nature of our assets and the sources and nature of our income, we believe it is likely that we were a PFIC in our taxable year ending September 30, 2023. Further, there is a significant risk that we will be a PFIC for our 2024 taxable year and in the foreseeable future. Whether or not we are a PFIC is a factual determination made annually, and our status could change depending upon, among other things, changes in the composition of our gross income and the relative quarterly values of our assets.

 

Further, if we are a PFIC for any year during which a U.S. Holder holds our Class A ordinary shares or ADSs, we generally will continue to be treated as a PFIC for all subsequent years during which such U.S. Holder holds our Class A ordinary shares or ADSs unless we cease to be a PFIC and the U.S. Holder makes a special “purging” election on IRS Form 8621.

 

Taxation of Dividends

 

Subject to the discussion below under “—Passive Foreign Investment Company Considerations,” the gross amount of any distribution of cash or property with respect to our Class A ordinary shares or ADSs (including amounts, if any, withheld to reflect PRC taxes) that is paid out of our current or accumulated earnings and profits (as determined for U.S. federal income tax purposes) will generally be includible in your taxable income as ordinary dividend income on the day on which you receive the dividend, in the case of Class A ordinary shares, or the date the depositary receives the dividends, in the case of ADSs, and will not be eligible for the dividends received deduction allowed to U.S. corporations under the Code.

 

We do not expect to maintain calculations of our earnings and profits in accordance with U.S. federal income tax principles. U.S. Holders therefore should expect that distributions generally will be treated as dividends for U.S. federal income tax purposes.

 

In the event that we are deemed to be a PRC resident enterprise under the PRC Enterprise Income Tax Law (see “—People’s Republic of China Taxation”), a U.S. Holder may be subject to PRC withholding taxes on dividends paid on our ADSs or Class A ordinary shares. In that case, we may, however, be eligible for the benefits of the Agreement Between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the People’s Republic of China for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Tax Evasion with Respect to Taxes on Income, or the “Treaty.” Dividend distributions with respect to our Class A ordinary shares or ADSs generally will be treated as “passive category” income from sources outside the United States for purposes of determining a U.S. Holder’s U.S. foreign tax credit limitation. Subject to generally applicable limitations and conditions, a U.S. Holder may be able to claim a foreign tax credit against its U.S. federal income tax liability in respect of any PRC income taxes withheld at the appropriate rate applicable to the U.S. Holder from a dividend paid to such U.S. Holder. These generally applicable limitations and conditions include new requirements adopted by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) in regulations promulgated in December 2021 and any PRC tax will need to satisfy these requirements in order to be eligible to be a creditable tax for a U.S. Holder. In the case of a U.S. Holder that either (i) is eligible for, and properly elects, the benefits of the Treaty, or (ii) consistently elects to apply a modified version of these rules under recently issued temporary guidance and complies with specific requirements set forth in such guidance, the PRC tax on dividends will be treated as meeting the new requirements and therefore as a creditable tax. In the case of all other U.S. Holders, the application of these requirements to the PRC tax on dividends is uncertain and we have not determined whether these requirements have been met. If the PRC dividend tax is not a creditable tax for a U.S. Holder or the U.S. Holder does not elect to claim a foreign tax credit for any foreign income taxes paid or accrued in the same taxable year, the U.S. Holder may be able to deduct the PRC tax in computing such U.S. Holder’s federal taxable income for U.S. federal income tax purposes. The rules with respect to foreign tax credits are complex and involve the application of rules that depend on a U.S. Holder’s particular circumstances. The temporary guidance discussed above also indicates that the Treasury and the IRS are considering proposing amendments to the December 2021 regulations and that the temporary guidance can be relied upon until additional guidance is issued that withdraws or modifies the temporary guidance. Accordingly, U.S. Holders are urged to consult their tax advisors regarding the availability of the foreign tax credit or the deductibility of foreign taxes under their particular circumstances.

 

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U.S. Holders that receive distributions of additional ADSs or Class A ordinary shares or rights to subscribe for ADSs or Class A ordinary shares as part of a pro rata distribution to all our shareholders generally will not be subject to U.S. federal income tax in respect of the distributions.

 

Taxation of Dispositions of ADSs or Class A Ordinary Shares

 

Subject to the discussion below under “—Passive Foreign Investment Company Considerations,” upon a sale, exchange or other taxable disposition of the ADSs or Class A ordinary shares, U.S. Holders will realize gain or loss for U.S. federal income tax purposes in the amount equal to the difference between the amount realized on the disposition and the U.S. Holder’s adjusted tax basis in the ADSs or Class A ordinary shares. Such gain or loss will be capital gain or loss and generally will be long-term capital gain or loss if the ADS or Class A ordinary shares have been held for more than one year. Long-term capital gain realized by a non-corporate U.S. Holder generally is subject to taxation at a preferential rate. The deductibility of capital losses is subject to limitations.

 

A U.S. Holder generally will not be entitled to credit any PRC tax imposed on the sale or other disposition of the ADSs or Class A ordinary shares against such U.S. Holder’s U.S. federal income tax liability, except in the case of either (i) a U.S. Holder that is eligible for, and properly elects to claim, the benefits of the Treaty, or (ii) a U.S. Holder that consistently elects to apply a modified version of the U.S. foreign tax credit rules that is permitted under recently issued temporary guidance and complies with the specific requirements set forth in such guidance. Gain, if any, realized by a U.S. Holder on the sale or other disposition of the ADSs or Class A ordinary shares generally will be treated as U.S. source income for U.S. foreign tax credit purposes. However, a U.S. Holder that is eligible for the benefits of the Treaty may elect to treat such gain as PRC source gain under the Treaty. If no such election is made by a U.S. Holder that is eligible for the benefits of the Treaty, such a U.S. Holder that does not receive significant foreign source income from other sources may not be able to derive effective U.S. foreign tax credit benefits in respect of such PRC tax. If the PRC tax is not a creditable tax or is not claimed as a credit by the U.S. Holder pursuant to the Treaty, the tax would reduce the amount realized on the sale or other disposition of the ADSs or Class A ordinary shares even if the U.S. Holder has elected to claim a foreign tax credit for other taxes in the same year. The temporary guidance discussed above also indicates that the Treasury and the IRS are considering proposing amendments to the December 2021 regulations and that the temporary guidance can be relied upon until additional guidance is issued that withdraws or modifies the temporary guidance. U.S. Holders should consult their own tax advisors regarding the application of the foreign tax credit rules to their investment in, and disposition of, the ADSs or Class A ordinary shares.

 

Deposits and withdrawals of Class A ordinary shares by U.S. Holders in exchange for ADSs will not result in the realization of gain or loss for U.S. federal income tax purposes.

  

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Passive Foreign Investment Company Considerations

 

In the event that we are classified as a PFIC in any year during which a U.S. Holder holds our Class A ordinary shares or ADSs and such U.S. Holder does not make a mark-to-market election, as described below, the U.S. Holder will be subject to a special tax at ordinary income tax rates on “excess distributions,” including certain distributions by us (generally, any distributions that you receive in a taxable year that are greater than 125% of the average annual distributions received during the shorter of the three preceding taxable years or the U.S. Holder’s holding period for the Class A ordinary shares or ADSs) and gain that the U.S. Holder recognizes on the sale of our ordinary shares or ADSs. Under these rules (a) the excess distribution or gain will be allocated ratably over the U.S. Holder’s holding period, (b) the amount allocated to the current taxable year and any taxable year prior to the first taxable year in which we are a PFIC will be taxed as ordinary income, and (c) the amount allocated to each of the other taxable years will be subject to tax at the highest rate of tax in effect for the applicable class of taxpayer for that year, and an interest charge for the deemed deferral benefit will be imposed with respect to the resulting tax attributable to each such other taxable year. Classification as a PFIC may also have other adverse tax consequences, including, in the case of individuals, the denial of a step up in the basis of his or her Class A ordinary shares or ADSs at death.

 

If we are a PFIC for any taxable year during which a U.S. Holder holds our ADSs or Class A ordinary shares and any of our non-U.S. subsidiaries is also a PFIC, such U.S. Holder will be treated as owning a proportionate amount (by value) of the shares of the lower-tier PFIC for purposes of the application of the PFIC rules. U.S. Holders should consult their own tax advisors about the possible application of the PFIC rules to any of our subsidiaries.

 

A U.S. Holder may be subject to alternative treatment by electing to mark its ADSs to market, provided the ADSs are treated as “marketable stock.” The ADSs generally will be treated as marketable stock if the ADSs are “regularly traded” on a “qualified exchange or other market” (which includes the NASDAQ Global Market). It should also be noted that the Class A ordinary shares are not listed on the NASDAQ Global Market. Consequently, a U.S. Holder that holds Class A ordinary shares that are not represented by ADSs may not be eligible to make a mark-to-market election. If the U.S. Holder makes a mark-to-market election, (i) the U.S. Holder will be required in any year in which we are a PFIC to include as ordinary income the excess of the fair market value of its ADSs at the end of the U.S. Holder’s taxable year over the U.S. Holder’s basis in those ADSs and (ii) the U.S. Holder will be entitled to deduct as an ordinary loss in each such year the excess of the U.S. Holder’s basis in its ADSs over their fair market value at the end of the U.S. Holder’s taxable year, but only to the extent of the net amount previously included in income as a result of the mark-to-market election. A U.S. Holder’s adjusted tax basis in its ADSs will be increased by the amount of any income inclusion and decreased by the amount of any deductions under the mark-to-market rules. In addition, any gain the U.S. Holder recognizes upon the sale of the U.S. Holder’s ADSs in a year in which we are a PFIC will be taxed as ordinary income in the year of sale, and any loss the U.S. Holder recognizes upon the sale will be treated as ordinary loss, but only to the extent of the net amount of previously included income as a result of the mark-to-market election. However, because a mark-to-market election cannot be made for equity interests in any lower-tier PFICs of the Company, a U.S. Holder would continue to be subject to the excess distribution rules with respect to subsidiaries of the Company that are PFICs, any distributions received by the Company from a subsidiary that is a PFIC, and any gain recognized by the Company upon a sale of equity interest of a subsidiary that is a PFIC, even if a mark-to-market election has been made by the U.S. Holder with respect to the ADSs. The interaction of the mark-to-market election rules and the rules governing lower-tier PFICs is complex and uncertain, and U.S. Holders should therefore consult their own tax advisors regarding the mark-to-market election as well as the application of the PFIC rules to their ownership of the ADSs.

 

ADSs will be considered to be regularly traded (i) during the current calendar year if they are traded, other than in de minimis quantities, on at least 1/6 of the days remaining in the quarter in which offering of the ADSs occurs, and on at least 15 days during each remaining quarter of the calendar year; and (ii) during any other calendar year if they are traded, other than in de minimis quantities, on at least 15 days during each calendar quarter. Once made, the election cannot be revoked without the consent of the IRS unless the shares cease to be marketable.

 

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In some cases, a shareholder of a PFIC may also be subject to alternative treatment by making a “qualified electing fund” (“QEF”) election to be taxed currently on its share of the PFIC’s undistributed income. To make a QEF election, the PFIC must provide shareholders with certain information compiled according to U.S. federal income tax principles. We do not intend to make available the information necessary to make a QEF election, and such election therefore will not be available to you.

 

A U.S. Holder that owns an equity interest in a PFIC must annually file IRS Form 8621. A failure to file one or more of these forms as required may toll the running of the statute of limitations in respect of each of the U.S. Holder’s taxable years for which such form is required to be filed. As a result, the taxable years with respect to which the U.S. Holder fails to file the form may remain open to assessment by the IRS indefinitely, until the form is filed.

 

U.S. Holders should consult their own tax advisors regarding the U.S. federal income tax considerations discussed above and the desirability of making a mark-to-market election.

 

Foreign Financial Asset Reporting

 

Certain U.S. Holders who are individuals that own “specified foreign financial assets” with an aggregate value in excess of US$50,000 on the last day of the taxable year or US$75,000 at any time during the taxable year are generally required to file an information statement along with their tax returns, currently on IRS Form 8938, with respect to such assets. “Specified foreign financial assets” include any financial accounts held at a non-U.S. financial institution, as well as securities issued by a non-U.S. issuer (which would include the Class A ordinary shares and the ADSs) that are not held in accounts maintained by financial institutions. Higher reporting thresholds apply to certain individuals living abroad and to certain married individuals. Regulations extend this reporting requirement to certain entities that are treated as formed or availed of to hold direct or indirect interests in specified foreign financial assets based on certain objective criteria. U.S. Holders that fail to report the required information could be subject to substantial penalties. In addition, the statute of limitations for assessment of tax would be suspended, in whole or part. Prospective investors should consult their own tax advisors concerning the application of these rules to their investment in the Class A ordinary shares or the ADSs, including the application of the rules to their particular circumstances.

 

Backup Withholding and Information Reporting

 

Dividends paid on, and proceeds from the sale or other disposition of, the ADSs or Class A ordinary shares that are paid to a U.S. Holder generally may be subject to the information reporting requirements of the Code and may be subject to backup withholding unless the U.S. Holder provides an accurate taxpayer identification number and makes any other required certification or otherwise establishes an exemption. Backup withholding is not an additional tax. The amount of any backup withholding from a payment to a U.S. Holder will be allowed as a refund or credit against the U.S. Holder’s U.S. federal income tax liability, provided the required information is furnished to the IRS in a timely manner.

 

A holder that is a non-U.S. corporation or a non-resident alien individual may be required to comply with certification and identification procedures in order to establish its exemption from information reporting and backup withholding.

 

F.Dividends and Paying Agents

 

Not applicable.

 

G.Statement by Experts

 

Not applicable.

 

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H.Documents on Display

 

We have filed a registration statement, including relevant exhibits, with the SEC on Form F-1 (Registration No. 333-234112) under the Securities Act to register the issuance and sale of our ordinary shares represented by ADSs in relation to our initial public offering. We have also filed a related registration statement on Form F-6 (Registration No. 333-234252) with the SEC to register the ADSs. We have also filed a registration statement on Form F-3 (File Number 333-258187) with the SEC.

 

We are subject to periodic reporting and other informational requirements of the Exchange Act as applicable to foreign private issuers. Accordingly, we are required to file reports, including annual reports on Form 20-F, and other information with the SEC. All information filed with the SEC can be obtained over the internet at the SEC’s website at www.sec.gov.

 

As a foreign private issuer, we are exempt under the Exchange Act from, among other things, the rules prescribing the furnishing and content of proxy statements, and our executive officers, directors and principal shareholders are exempt from the reporting and short swing profit recovery provisions contained in Section 16 of the Exchange Act. In addition, we are not required under the Exchange Act to file periodic reports and financial statements with the SEC as frequently or as promptly as U.S. companies whose securities are registered under the Exchange Act. However, we intend to furnish the depositary with our annual reports, which will include a review of operations and annual audited consolidated combined financial statements prepared in conformity with U.S. GAAP, and all notices of shareholders’ meetings and other reports and communications that are made generally available to our shareholders. The depositary will make such notices, reports and communications available to holders of ADSs and, if we so request, will mail to all record holders of ADSs the information contained in any notice of a shareholders’ meeting received by the depositary from us.

 

I.Subsidiary Information

 

Not applicable.

 

ITEM 11. QUANTITATIVE AND QUALITATIVE DISCLOSURES ABOUT MARKET RISK

 

Interest Rate Risk

 

Our exposure to interest rate risk primarily relates to the interest rates for capital leases, rental installment loans and other financing arrangement, and bank borrowings. The interest rate risk may result from many factors, including government monetary and tax policies, domestic and international economic and political considerations, and other factors that are beyond our control. We may incur additional borrowings or other facilities in the future. Significant increases in interest rates may have an adverse impact on our earnings if we are unable to source rental apartments with rental rates high enough to offset the increase in interest rates for the rental installment loans, capital leases and other financing arrangement, and bank borrowings.

 

The sensitivity analysis below has been determined based on the exposure to interest rates for interest bearing bank balances and other borrowings with variable interest rates as of September 30, 2023. The analysis is prepared assuming that those balances outstanding as of September 30, 2021 and 2022 were outstanding for the whole financial year. A 10% increase or decrease which represents the management’s assessment of the reasonably possible change in interest rates is used. Assuming no change in the outstanding balance of our existing interest bearing bank balances and other borrowings with variable interest rates as of September 30, 2023, a 10% increase or decrease in each applicable interest rate would add or deduct RMB nil (US$ nil) to our interest expense in FY 2023.

 

This analysis does not consider the effects of the reduced level of overall economic activity that could exist in such an environment. In addition, in the event of a change of such magnitude, we would consider taking actions to mitigate our exposure to the change. However, because of the uncertainty of the specific actions that would be taken and their possible effects, the sensitivity analysis assumes no changes in our capital structure. We have not used any derivative financial instruments to manage our interest risk exposure.

 

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Foreign Exchange Risk

 

The value of Renminbi against the U.S. dollar and other currencies may fluctuate and is affected by, among other things, changes in political and economic conditions and the foreign exchange policy adopted by the PRC government. On July 21, 2005, the PRC government changed its policy of pegging the value of the Renminbi to the U.S. dollar. Following the removal of the U.S. dollar peg, the Renminbi appreciated more than 20% against the U.S. dollar over the following three years. Between July 2008 and June 2010, this appreciation halted and the exchange rate between the Renminbi and the U.S. dollar remained within a narrow band. Since June 2010, the PRC government has allowed the Renminbi to appreciate slowly against the U.S. dollar again, and it has appreciated more than 10% since June 2010. On August 11, 2015, the PBOC announced plans to improve the central parity rate of the RMB against the U.S. dollar by authorizing market makers to provide parity to the China Foreign Exchange Trading Center operated by the PBOC with reference to the interbank foreign exchange market closing rate of the previous day, the supply and demand for foreign currencies as well as changes in exchange rates of major international currencies. Effective from October 1, 2016, the International Monetary Fund added Renminbi to its Special Drawing Rights currency basket. Such change and additional future changes may increase the volatility in the trading value of the Renminbi against foreign currencies. The (depreciation) /appreciation of the U.S. dollar against the Renminbi was approximately (5.1)%, 10.4% and 2.7% in FY 2021, FY 2022 and FY 2023, respectively. The PRC government may adopt further reforms of its exchange rate system, including making the Renminbi freely convertible in the future. Accordingly, it is difficult to predict how market forces or PRC or U.S. government policy may impact the exchange rate between Renminbi and the U.S. dollar in the future.

 

As substantially all of our revenues and expenses are denominated in Renminbi, we do not believe that we currently have any significant direct foreign exchange risk, and have not used any derivative financial instruments to hedge exposure to such risk. Although our exposure to foreign exchange risks should be limited in general, the value of your investment in our ADSs will be affected by the exchange rate between U.S. dollar and Renminbi because the value of our business is effectively denominated in Renminbi, while our ADSs will be traded in U.S. dollars. In addition, the reporting currency of our company is Renminbi, the functional currency of our company is U.S. dollars, and the functional currency of our subsidiaries is their local currencies, which is Renminbi for our operating subsidiaries. Any significant revaluation of U.S. dollars may materially and adversely affect our earnings and shareholders’ deficits in Renminbi given that a portion of our cash and cash equivalents are denominated in U.S. dollars. A 10% depreciation of U.S. dollars against Renminbi may increase loss and shareholders’ deficits by RMB28.6 thousand (US$4.0 thousand) for FY 2023.

 

Concentration of Credit Risk

 

Financial instruments that potentially expose us to concentration of credit risk consist primarily of cash and cash equivalents.

 

All of our cash and cash equivalents are held with financial institutions that our management believes to be high credit quality. To limit exposure to credit risk relating to deposits, we primarily place cash and cash equivalent deposits with large financial institutions in the United States and the PRC which management believes are of high credit quality and we also continually monitor their credit worthiness.

 

ITEM 12. DESCRIPTION OF SECURITIES OTHER THAN EQUITY SECURITIES

 

A.Debt Securities

 

Not applicable.

 

B.Warrants and Rights

 

Not applicable.

 

C.Other Securities

 

Not applicable.

 

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D.American Depositary Shares

 

Fees and Expenses

 

An ADS holder will be required to pay the following fees under the terms of the deposit agreement:

 

Persons depositing or withdrawing shares or ADS holders must pay:   For:
US$5.00 (or less) per 100 ADSs (or portion of 100 ADSs)   Issuance of ADSs, including issuances resulting from a distribution of shares or rights or other property Cancellation of ADSs for the purpose of withdrawal, including if the deposit agreement terminates
     
US$.05 (or less) per ADS   Any cash distribution to ADS holders
     
A fee equivalent to the fee that would be payable if securities distributed to you had been shares and the shares had been deposited for issuance of ADSs   Distribution of securities distributed to holders of deposited securities (including rights) that are distributed by the depositary to ADS holders
     
US$.05 (or less) per ADS per calendar year   Depositary services
     
Registration or transfer fees   Transfer and registration of shares on our share register to or from the name of the depositary or its agent when you deposit or withdraw shares
     
Expenses of the depositary   Cable (including SWIFT) and facsimile transmissions (when expressly provided in the deposit agreement)
     
    Converting foreign currency to U.S. dollars
     
Taxes and other governmental charges the depositary or the custodian has to pay on any ADSs or shares underlying ADSs, such as stock transfer taxes, stamp duty or withholding taxes   As necessary
     
Any charges incurred by the depositary or its agents for servicing the deposited securities   As necessary

  

The depositary collects its fees for delivery and surrender of ADSs directly from investors depositing shares or surrendering ADSs for the purpose of withdrawal or from intermediaries acting for them. The depositary collects fees for making distributions to investors by deducting those fees from the amounts distributed or by selling a portion of distributable property to pay the fees. The depositary may collect its annual fee for depositary services by deduction from cash distributions or by directly billing investors or by charging the book entry system accounts of participants acting for them. The depositary may collect any of its fees by deduction from any cash distribution payable (or by selling a portion of securities or other property distributable) to ADS holders that are obligated to pay those fees. The depositary may generally refuse to provide fee attracting services until its fees for those services are paid.

 

From time to time, the depositary may make payments to us to reimburse us for costs and expenses generally arising out of establishment and maintenance of the ADS program, waive fees and expenses for services provided to us by the depositary or share revenue from the fees collected from ADS holders. In performing its duties under the deposit agreement, the depositary may use brokers, dealers, foreign currency dealers or other service providers that are owned by or affiliated with the depositary and that may earn or share fees, spreads or commissions. For FY 2023, we received reimbursement of US$ nil from the depositary.

 

The depositary may convert currency itself or through any of its affiliates and, in those cases, acts as principal for its own account and not as agent, advisor, broker or fiduciary on behalf of any other person and earns revenue, including, without limitation, transaction spreads, that it will retain for its own account. The revenue is based on, among other things, the difference between the exchange rate assigned to the currency conversion made under the deposit agreement and the rate that the depositary or its affiliate receives when buying or selling foreign currency for its own account. The depositary makes no representation that the exchange rate used or obtained in any currency conversion under the deposit agreement will be the most favorable rate that could be obtained at the time or that the method by which that rate will be determined will be the most favorable to ADS holders, subject to the depositary’s obligations under the deposit agreement. The methodology used to determine exchange rates used in currency conversions is available upon request.

 

Payment of Taxes

 

You will be responsible for any taxes or other governmental charges payable on your ADSs or on the deposited securities represented by any of your ADSs. The depositary may refuse to register any transfer of your ADSs or allow you to withdraw the deposited securities represented by your ADSs until those taxes or other charges are paid. It may apply payments owed to you or sell deposited securities represented by your ADSs to pay any taxes owed and you will remain liable for any deficiency. If the depositary sells deposited securities, it will, if appropriate, reduce the number of ADSs to reflect the sale and pay to ADS holders any proceeds, or send to ADS holders any property, remaining after it has paid the taxes.

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PART II

 

ITEM 13. DEFAULTS, DIVIDEND ARREARAGES AND DELINQUENCIES

 

None.

 

ITEM 14. MATERIAL MODIFICATIONS TO THE RIGHTS OF SECURITY HOLDERS AND USE OF PROCEEDS

 

Material Modifications to the Rights of Security Holders

 

See “Item 10. Additional Information—B. Memorandum and Articles of Association” for a description of the rights of securities holders, which remain unchanged.

 

Use of Proceeds

 

As of the date of our annual report for FY2022 filed on January 23, 2023, we had used all proceeds from our initial public offering.

 

ITEM 15. CONTROLS AND PROCEDURES

 

Disclosure Controls and Procedures

 

Our management, with the participation of our chief executive officer and chief financial officer, has performed an evaluation of the effectiveness of our disclosure controls and procedures (as defined in Rule 13a-15© under the Exchange Act) as of the end of the period covered by this report, as required by Rule 13a-15(b) under the Exchange Act.

 

Based upon that evaluation, our management has concluded that, due to the outstanding material weakness described below, as of September 30, 2023, our disclosure controls and procedures were not effective in ensuring that the information required to be disclosed by us in the reports that we file and furnish under the Exchange Act was recorded, processed, summarized and reported, within the time periods specified in the SEC’s rules and forms, and that the information required to be disclosed by us in the reports that we file or submit under the Exchange Act is accumulated and communicated to our management, including our chief executive officer and chief financial officer, to allow timely decisions regarding required disclosure.

 

Management’s Annual Report on Internal Control over Financial Reporting

 

Our management is responsible for designing, establishing and maintaining a system of internal controls over financial reporting, as defined in Rule 13a-15(f) under the Exchange Act, to provide reasonable assurance that the financial information prepared by us for external purposes is reliable and has been recorded, processed and reported in an accurate and timely manner in accordance with U.S. GAAP. Our board of directors is responsible for ensuring that management fulfills its responsibilities. Because of its inherent limitations, our internal control over financial reporting may not prevent or detect all possible misstatements or frauds. Also, projections of any evaluation of effectiveness to future periods are subject to the risk that controls may become inadequate because of changes in conditions, or that the degree of compliance with policies or procedures may deteriorate.

 

In connection with the audits of our consolidated financial statements as of September 30, 2023 and for FY 2023, we and our independent registered public accounting firm identified one material weakness in our internal control over financial reporting. As defined in the standards established by the U.S. Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, a “material weakness” is a deficiency, or combination of deficiencies, in internal control over financial reporting, such that there is a reasonable possibility that a material misstatement of the annual or interim financial statements will not be prevented or detected on a timely basis.

 

The material weakness identified relates to lack of sufficient accounting and financial reporting personnel with appropriate knowledge of U.S. GAAP and SEC reporting requirements to (a) formalize and carry out key controls over financial reporting, (b) properly address complex accounting issues and (c) prepare and review consolidated financial statements and related disclosures in accordance with U.S. GAAP and SEC reporting requirements, and lack of a comprehensive accounting policy manual and closing procedure manual for its finance department to convert its primary financial information prepared under accounting principles generally accepted in the PRC into U.S. GAAP.

 

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We established an audit committee in November 2019. We have also engaged an internal control consultant to help us establish and improve our internal controls, hired additional accounting staff with appropriate understanding of U.S. GAAP and SEC reporting requirements, trained the existing financial reporting personnel and engaged an independent third party consultant to assist in establishing processes and oversight measures to comply with the requirements of Sarbanes-Oxley Act. We are in the process of implementing a number of measures to address the material weakness that has been identified, including formalizing a set of comprehensive U.S. GAAP accounting manuals, hiring more qualified internal auditors to strengthen our overall governance, providing relevant training to our accounting personnel and upgrading our financial reporting system to streamline monthly and year-end closings and integrate financial and operating reporting systems. We also plan to take other steps to strengthen our internal control over financial reporting, including enhancing our internal audit function independently led by audit committee. However, we cannot assure you that we will remediate our material weakness in a timely manner.

 

Because of the material weakness identified above, our management has concluded that our internal control over financial reporting was not effective as of September 30, 2023.

 

Attestation report of the registered public accounting firm

 

Since we are an “emerging growth company” as defined under the JOBS Act, we are exempt from the requirement to comply with the auditor attestation requirements that our independent registered public accounting firm attest to and report on the effectiveness of our internal control structure and procedures for financial reporting.

 

Changes in Internal Control over Financial Reporting

 

There was no changes in our internal control over financial reporting that occurred in FY 2023 that have materially affected, or are reasonably likely to materially affect, our internal control over financial reporting.

 

ITEM 16A. AUDIT COMMITTEE FINANCIAL EXPERT

 

Our board of directors has determined that Chen Chen, our independent director (under the standards set forth under Rule 5605(a)(2) of the NASDAQ Marketplace Rules and Rule 10A-3 under the Exchange Act) is an “audit committee financial expert.”

 

ITEM 16B. CODE OF ETHICS

 

Our board of directors adopted a code of business conduct and ethics that applies to our directors, officers and employees in September 2019. We have posted a copy of our code of business conduct and ethics on our website at https://ir.qk365.com/static-files/f3b7f9ae-914c-4059-9f2f-ebf9a7268429, where you can obtain a copy without charge.

 

ITEM 16C. PRINCIPAL ACCOUNTANT FEES AND SERVICES

 

The following table sets forth the aggregate fees by categories specified below in connection with certain professional services rendered by Marcum Asia CPAs LLP , our former principal external auditors, for the periods indicated. No audit-related fees were billed in connection with certain professional services rendered by OneStop Assurance PAC Singapore for the periods indicated.

 

   FY 2022   FY 2023 
   RMB   RMB   US$ 
   (in thousands) 
Audit-related fees (1)   4,965    3,647    500 
Total   4,965    3,647    500 

 

 

(1)Audit-related fees include the aggregate fees incurred in each of the fiscal years listed above for professional services rendered by our principal auditors for the audit or review of our annual financial statements or quarterly financial information and review of documents filed with the SEC.

 

The policy of our audit committee is to pre-approve all audit and non-audit services provided by Marcum Asia CPAs LLP, including audit services, audit related services, tax services and other services as described above, other than those for de minimis services which are approved by the audit committee prior to the completion of the audit.

 

99

 

 

ITEM 16D. EXEMPTIONS FROM THE LISTING STANDARDS FOR AUDIT COMMITTEES

 

Not applicable.

 

ITEM 16E. PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES BY THE ISSUER AND AFFILIATED PURCHASERS

 

None.

 

ITEM 16F. CHANGE IN REGISTRANT’S CERTIFYING ACCOUNTANT

 

We incorporate by reference into this annual report our response to Item 16F in our Shell Company Report on Form 20-F (File No. 001-39111) filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on December 29, 2023, and the letter from Marcum Asia CPAs LLP which was included as Exhibit 16.1 thereto.

 

ITEM 16G. CORPORATE GOVERNANCE

 

As a Cayman Islands company listed on the NASDAQ Global Market, we are subject to the NASDAQ Global Market corporate governance listing standards. However, NASDAQ Global Market rules permit a foreign private issuer like us to follow the corporate governance practices of its home country. Certain corporate governance practices in the Cayman Islands, which is our home country, may differ significantly from the NASDAQ Global Market corporate governance listing standards. We opt to follow our home country practices and rely on certain exemptions provided by the NASDAQ Global Market corporate governance listing standards to a foreign private issuer, including exemptions from the requirements to have:

 

majority of independent directors on our board of directors;

 

a minimum of three members in our audit committee;

 

only independent directors being involved in the selection of director nominees and determination of executive officer compensation;

 

regularly scheduled executive sessions of independent directors;

 

a quorum of annual general meeting which is no less than 33 1/3% of our outstanding shares; and

 

shareholder approval prior to an issuance of securities in connection with (i) acquisition of the stock or assets of another company, (ii) change of control, (iii) equity compensation, and (iv) transactions other than public offerings.

 

As a result of our reliance on the corporate governance exemptions available to foreign private issuers, holders of our ADSs will not have the same protection afforded to shareholders of companies that are subject to all of NASDAQ Global Market corporate governance requirements.

 

100

 

 

ITEM 16H. MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURE

 

Not applicable.

 

ITEM 16I. DISCLOSURE REGARDING FOREIGN JURISDICTIONS THAT PREVENT INSPECTIONS

 

Not applicable.

 

ITEM 16J. INSIDER TRADING POLICIES

 

We have adopted an amended and restated insider trading policy to promote compliance with applicable securities laws and regulations, including those that prohibit insider trading. This policy applies to all officers, directors, employees and consultants of the Company (each, an “Affiliate”) and extends to all activities within and outside an individual’s duties at our Company. The insider trading policy establishes guidelines and procedures for the following:

 

1. No Trading: No Affiliate can trade any securities or enter into a trading plan while possessing material non-public information about us. Director, officer, employee or consultant in possession of such information must wait for a 48-hour period after public disclosure and the lapse of one full trading day on Nasdaq before trading. Additionally, director, officer, employee or consultant cannot trade during limited trading periods, regardless of the possession of material information. All transactions of securities by officers, directors, and key employees must be pre-approved by our compliance officer.

 

2. Trading Window: The insider trading policy establishes a trading window for officers, directors, employees, or consultants, during which they can trade our securities or enter into a trading plan. The trading window begins at the close of business on the second trading day following the public disclosure of our financial results for the previous fiscal year or quarter and ends on the last day of each fiscal quarter. Trading during the trading window does not provide a safe harbor, and Affiliates must comply with all policies. If in doubt, consult the compliance officer before trading.

 

3. No Tipping: No Affiliate may directly or indirectly disclose any material information to anyone who trades in our securities.

 

4. Confidentiality: No Affiliate may communicate any material information to anyone outside the Company under any circumstances unless approved by the compliance officer in advance, or to anyone within the Company other than on a need-to-know basis.

 

5. No Comment: No Affiliate may discuss any internal matters or developments of the Company with anyone outside of the Company, except as required in the performance of regular corporate duties. Unless expressly authorized to the contrary, if an Affiliate receive any inquiries about the Company or its securities by the financial press, investment analysts or others, or any requests for comments or interviews, they should decline to comment and direct the inquiry or request to the Company’s Chief Financial Officer, who is responsible for coordinating and overseeing the release of Company information to the investing public, analysts and others in compliance with applicable laws and regulations.

 

6. Corrective Action: If one becomes aware that any potentially Material Information has been or may have been inadvertently disclosed, one must notify the Compliance Officer immediately so that the Company can determine whether or not corrective action, such as general disclosure to the public, is warranted.

 

We are committed to maintaining the highest standards of ethical conduct and have implemented these insider trading policies and procedures to ensure compliance with applicable securities laws and to protect the interests of our shareholders.

  

ITEM 16K. CYBERSECURITY

 

Not applicable due to fiscal year end date.

 

101

 

 

PART III

 

ITEM 17. FINANCIAL STATEMENTS

 

We have elected to provide financial statements pursuant to Item 18.

 

ITEM 18. FINANCIAL STATEMENTS

 

Our consolidated financial statements are included at the end of this annual report.

 

ITEM 19. EXHIBITS

 

Exhibit
Number
  Description of Document
     
1.1   Form of Third Amended and Restated Memorandum and Articles of Association of the Registrant (with Secretary’s Certificate of the Registrant (reflecting the Registrant’s name change effective on September 13, 2022))(incorporated herein by reference to Exhibit 1.1 to the Shell Company Report on Form 20-F (File No. 001-39111), filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on December 29, 2023)
     
2.1   Registrant’s Specimen American Depositary Receipt(incorporated herein by reference to Exhibit 2.1 to the Shell Company Report on Form 20-F (File No. 001-39111), filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on December 29, 2023)
     
2.2*   Registrant’s Specimen Certificate for Class A ordinary shares
     
2.3   Form of Deposit Agreement, among the Registrant, the depositary and owners and holders of American Depositary Receipts (incorporated herein by reference to Exhibit (a) to the registration statement on Form F-6 (File No. 333-234252), as amended, initially filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on October 18, 2019).
     
2.4*   Description of Securities
     
4.1   2019 Share Incentive Plan of the Registrant (incorporated herein by reference to Exhibit 10.9 to the registration statement on Form F-1 (File No. 333-234112), as amended, initially filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on October 7, 2019)
     
4.2   Form of Indemnification Agreement between the Registrant and its directors and executive officers (incorporated herein by reference to Exhibit 10.1 to the registration statement on Form F-1 (File No. 333-234112), as amended, initially filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on October 7, 2019)
     
4.3   English translation of the form of Employment Agreement between the Registrant and its executive officers (incorporated herein by reference to Exhibit 10.2 to the registration statement on Form F-1 (File No. 333-234112), as amended, initially filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on October 7, 2019)
     
4.4   2022 Share Incentive Plan of the Registrant (incorporated herein by reference to Exhibit 4.14 to the Shell Company Report on Form 20-F (File No. 001-39111), filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on December 29, 2023)
     
4.5   Secured Promissory Note issued by FLJ Group Limited to MMTEC, INC (incorporated herein by reference to Exhibit 4.15 to the Shell Company Report on Form 20-F (File No. 001-39111), filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on December 29, 2023)
     
4.6   Secured Promissory Note issued by FLJ Group Limited to Burgeon Capital Inc (incorporated herein by reference to Exhibit 4.16 to the Shell Company Report on Form 20-F (File No. 001-39111), filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on December 29, 2023)

 

102

 

 

Exhibit
Number
  Description of Document
4.7   English translation of Exclusive Business Cooperation Agreement, dated January 1, 2022, between Jiachuang Yingan (Beijing) Information & Technology Co., Ltd. and Huaming Yunbao (Tianjin) Technology Co., Ltd. (incorporated herein by reference to Exhibit 4.2 to the Shell Company Report on Form 20-F (File No. 001-39111), filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on December 29, 2023)
     
4.8   English translation of Exclusive Option Agreement, dated January 1, 2022, among Jiachuang Yingan (Beijing) Information & Technology Co., Ltd., Huaming Yunbao (Tianjin) Technology Co., Ltd. and its shareholders (incorporated herein by reference to Exhibit 4.3 to the Shell Company Report on Form 20-F (File No. 001-39111), filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on December 29, 2023)
     
4.9   English translation of Equity Interest Pledge Agreement, dated January 1, 2022, among Jiachuang Yingan (Beijing) Information & Technology Co., Ltd., Huaming Yunbao (Tianjin) Technology Co., Ltd. and its shareholder (incorporated herein by reference to Exhibit 4.4 to the Shell Company Report on Form 20-F (File No. 001-39111), filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on December 29, 2023)
     
4.10   English translation of Agreement for Power of Attorney, dated January 1, 2022, among Jiachuang Yingan (Beijing) Information & Technology Co., Ltd., Huaming Yunbao (Tianjin) Technology Co., Ltd. and its shareholder (incorporated herein by reference to Exhibit 4.5 to the Shell Company Report on Form 20-F (File No. 001-39111), filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on December 29, 2023)
     
4.11   English translation of the executed form of Spousal Consent Letter, dated January 1, 2022, granted by the spouses of individual shareholders of Huaming Yunbao (Tianjin) Technology Co., Ltd. (incorporated herein by reference to Exhibit 4.6 to the Shell Company Report on Form 20-F (File No. 001-39111), filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on December 29, 2023)
     
4.12   English translation of Exclusive Business Cooperation Agreement, dated January 1, 2022, between Jiachuang Yingan (Beijing) Information & Technology Co., Ltd. and Huaming Insurance Agency Co., Ltd. (incorporated herein by reference to Exhibit 4.7 to the Shell Company Report on Form 20-F (File No. 001-39111), filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on December 29, 2023)
     
4.13   English translation of Exclusive Option Agreement, dated January 1, 2022, among Jiachuang Yingan (Beijing) Information & Technology Co., Ltd. and Huaming Insurance Agency Co., Ltd. and its shareholders (incorporated herein by reference to Exhibit 4.8 to the Shell Company Report on Form 20-F (File No. 001-39111), filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on December 29, 2023)
     
4.14   English translation of Equity Interest Pledge Agreement, dated January 1, 2022, among Jiachuang Yingan (Beijing) Information & Technology Co., Ltd. and Huaming Insurance Agency Co., Ltd. and its shareholder (incorporated herein by reference to Exhibit 4.9 to the Shell Company Report on Form 20-F (File No. 001-39111), filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on December 29, 2023)
     
4.15   English translation of Agreement for Power of Attorney, dated January 1, 2022, among Jiachuang Yingan (Beijing) Information & Technology Co., Ltd. and Huaming Insurance Agency Co., Ltd. and its shareholder (incorporated herein by reference to Exhibit 4.10 to the Shell Company Report on Form 20-F (File No. 001-39111), filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on December 29, 2023)
     
4.16   English translation of the executed form of Spousal Consent Letter, dated January 1, 2022, granted by the spouses of individual shareholders of Huaming Insurance Agency Co., Ltd. (incorporated herein by reference to Exhibit 4.11 to the Shell Company Report on Form 20-F (File No. 001-39111), filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on December 29, 2023)
     

4.17*

  Amendment to Equity Acquisition Agreement and Promissory Notes
     
8.1*   List of Principal Subsidiaries of the Registrant

 

103

 

 

Exhibit
Number
  Description of Document
11.1   Code of Business Conduct and Ethics of the Registrant (incorporated herein by reference to Exhibit 99.1 to the registration statement on Form F-1 (File No. 333-234112), as amended, initially filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on October 7, 2019)
     
11.2*   Amended and Restated Insider Trading Policy
     
12.1*   Certification by Principal Executive Officer Pursuant to Section 302 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002
     
12.2*   Certification by Principal Financial Officer Pursuant to Section 302 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002
     
13.1**   Certification by Principal Executive Officer Pursuant to Section 906 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002
     
13.2**   Certification by Principal Financial Officer Pursuant to Section 906 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002
     
15.1*   Consent of OneStop Assurance PAC Singapore, independent registered public accounting firm
     
15.2*   Consent of JunHe LLP
     
15.3*   Consent of Marcum Asia CPAs LLP, independent registered public accounting firm
     
97.1*   Policy Relating to Recovery of Erroneously Awarded Compensation
     
101.INS*   Inline XBRL Instance Document – the instance document does not appear in the Interactive Data File because its XBRL tags are embedded within the Inline XBRL document
     
101.SCH*   Inline XBRL Taxonomy Extension Schema Document
     
101.CAL*   Inline XBRL Taxonomy Extension Calculation Linkbase Document
     
101.DEF*   Inline XBRL Taxonomy Extension Definition Linkbase Document
     
101.LAB*   Inline XBRL Taxonomy Extension Label Linkbase Document
     
101.PRE*   Inline XBRL Taxonomy Extension Presentation Linkbase Document
     
104*   Cover Page Interactive Data File (embedded within the Inline XBRL document)

 

 

*Filed herewith

 

**Furnished herewith

 

104

 

 

SIGNATURES

 

The registrant hereby certifies that it meets all of the requirements for filing its annual report on Form 20-F and that it has duly caused and authorized the undersigned to sign this annual report on its behalf.

 

  FLJ Group Limited

 

  By: /s/ Chengcai Qu
  Name:  Chengcai Qu
  Title: Chairman of the Board of Directors, Chief Executive Officer, Chief Operating Officer and Vice President

 

Date: February 9, 2024

 

105

 

 

FLJ GROUP LIMITED

(formerly known as “Q&K INTERNATIONAL GROUP LIMITED”)

 

INDEX TO CONSOLIDATED FINANCIAL STATEMENTS

 

Reports of Independent Registered Public Accounting Firms (PCAOB ID 6732) F-2
Reports of Independent Registered Public Accounting Firms (PCAOB ID 5395) F-3
Consolidated Balance Sheets as of September 30, 2022 and 2023 F-4
Consolidated Statements of Comprehensive (Loss) Income for the Years Ended September 30, 2021, 2022 and 2023 F-5
Consolidated Statements of Changes in Shareholders’ Deficit for the Years Ended September 30, 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023 F-6
Consolidated Statements of Cash Flows for the Years Ended September 30, 2021, 2022 and 2023 F-7
Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements F-8

 

F-1

 

 

REPORT OF INDEPENDENT REGISTERED PUBLIC ACCOUNTING FIRM

 

To the Shareholders and Board of Directors of

FLJ Group Limited

 

Opinion on the Financial Statements

 

We have audited the accompanying balance sheet of FLJ Group Limited (the “Company”) as of September 30, 2023 and the related statements of operations, changes in shareholders’ deficit and cash flows for the year then ended, and the related notes (collectively referred to as the “financial statements”). In our opinion, the financial statements present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of the Company as of September 30, 2023 and the results of its operations and its cash flows for the year then ended, in conformity with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America.

 

Explanatory Paragraph—Going Concern

 

The accompanying financial statements have been prepared assuming that the Company will continue as a going concern. As discussed in Note 2 to the financial statements, the Company has incurred losses from operations for the year ended, and will require additional capital to fund its current operating plan. This raises substantial doubt about the Company’s ability to continue as a going concern. Management’s plans regarding these matters are also described in Note 2. The financial statements do not include any adjustments to reflect the possible future effects on the recoverability and classification of assets or the amounts and classification of liabilities that may result from the outcome of this uncertainty.

 

Basis for Opinion

 

These financial statements are the responsibility of the Company’s management. Our responsibility is to express an opinion on the Company’s financial statements based on our audits. We are a public accounting firm registered with the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (United States) (“PCAOB”) and are required to be independent with respect to the Company in accordance with the U.S. federal securities laws and the applicable rules and regulations of the Securities and Exchange Commission and the PCAOB.

 

We conducted our audits in accordance with the standards of the PCAOB and in accordance with the auditing standards generally accepted in the United States of America. Those standards require that we plan and perform the audits to obtain reasonable assurance about whether the financial statements are free of material misstatement, whether due to error or fraud. The Company is not required to have, nor were we engaged to perform, an audit of its internal control over financial reporting. As part of our audits we are required to obtain an understanding of internal control over financial reporting but not for the purpose of expressing an opinion on the effectiveness of the Company’s internal control over financial reporting. Accordingly, we express no such opinion.

 

Our audits included performing procedures to assess the risks of material misstatement of the financial statements, whether due to error or fraud, and performing procedures that respond to those risks. Such procedures included examining, on a test basis, evidence regarding the amounts and disclosures in the financial statements. Our audits also included evaluating the accounting principles used and significant estimates made by management, as well as evaluating the overall presentation of the financial statements. We believe that our audits provide a reasonable basis for our opinion.

 

/s/ OneStop Assurance PAC

We have served as the Company’s auditor since 2023.

 

Singapore

February 9, 2024

PCAOB ID: 6732