The pricing comes at a delicate time for Hong Kong's stock market, with the benchmark Hang Seng index falling 6.5 percent this month and 4.8 percent this year as investors fret over escalating trade tension between the United States and China.
As such, Xiaomi's share sale is widely seen as a test of market sentiment for what is expected to be a packed second-half of the year for Hong Kong IPOs, with offerings including online food delivery-to-ticketing services platform Meituan Dianping.
China Tower, the world's largest mobile mast operator, has won approval for a Hong Kong IPO that could raise up to $10 billion. However, its listing timing will depend somewhat on how well Xiaomi's deal is received, sources have told Reuters.
"Xiaomi's pricing won't be good news for market sentiment," said Hong Hao, chief strategist at BOCOM International. "But other IPO candidates will still flock to the market to list before market conditions become more challenging."
Xiaomi is selling about 2.18 billion shares at HK$17 each ($2.17), the bottom of a price range of HK$17 to HK$22, two of the people said. That makes the IPO the largest in the technology sector Alibaba Group Holding Ltd raised $25 billion in New York in 2014.
Xiaomi declined to comment. The people declined to be identified as the information was not public.
The HK$17 price represents a multiple of 39.6 times 2018 earnings and 22.7 times Xiaomi's 2019 earnings forecast by its underwriting syndicate. At present, rival Apple Inc is trading at 17 times trailing earnings and 14 times forward earnings, showed Thomson Reuters data.
"I'm not surprised at all by its pricing at the bottom," said Hong. "It claims to be a hardware plus internet services company, but the majority of its revenues come from the smartphone business. It's still way more expensive than Apple on a price-earnings basis."