Renren shares soar in social networking site flotation

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Media captionRenren chief executive Joseph Chen: "Today is the first day of our 30 year plan"

Shares in one of China's biggest social networking sites, Renren, have soared on their debut in New York.

The shares were priced at $14, peaked at $21.93, and closed at $18.01.

Renren's initial public offering raised $743.4m (£449.3m), after the company increased the price range for the shares from $9 to $11 a share to a range of $12 to $14 last week.

The price had been expected to be announced on Tuesday evening, but was delayed until Wednesday morning.

No reason has been given for the delay.

The social networking site managed to increase its price range despite having told investors that it had only 31 million active users every month, much less than the 117 million that it had stated initially.

The demand for Renren shares comes despite concerns about its financial controls and the resignation of the chairman of its audit committee, as well as China's record of censoring and blocking websites.

Renren's chief executive Joseph Chen told BBC News why he had decided on a New York listing.

"I think the US has the largest group of technology-savvy investors... who have the ability to tell which products will do well, so we think for our type of business this is the best place to list," he said.

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