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Tencent denies report of Singapore IPO for WeChat spin-off

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Tencent Holdings Ltd, China's leading Internet firm by revenue, on Tuesday denied a newspaper report that it plans to list its popular Weixin, or WeChat, mobile messaging app as a spin-off company in Singapore.

Citing an unnamed source, the China Daily earlier reported that Hong Kong-listed Tencent opened an office in Singapore to deal with a listing, which it originally planned to hold in Hong Kong. The report gave no timeframe or other listing details.

"This market news is not true," said Jerry Huang, a spokesman for Tencent.

Tencent, led by CEO and Chairman Pony Ma and more than 30 percent owned by South African media group Naspers Ltd, is due to announce second-quarter earnings on Wednesday.

The company has invested heavily in WeChat as it and other Chinese Internet companies such as Alibaba Group and Baidu Inc try to broaden their revenue streams.

With more than 300 million users in China, WeChat - which is similar to WhatsApp and South Korean firm Kakao Inc's KakaoTalk - has strong potential earnings power for Tencent, which is looking to monetize the app. It last week released an updated app introducing games, paid-for emoticons and a mobile payment system.

Shares in Tencent, valued at $88 billion, rose as much as 1.5 percent in early trade, but by the midsession were trading down 0.05 percent at HK$367.20. The broader Hang Seng index was up 0.7 percent.

($1 = 7.7556 Hong Kong dollars)

(Reporting by Adam Jourdan in Shanghai and Paul Carsten in Beijing; Editing Kazunori Takada, Chris Gallagher and Ian Geoghegan)

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