Tim Culpan:

A year ago the world was beset by a bicycle rental craze that resulted in piles of discarded equipment and mountains of claims about the size of each fleet’s business.

I even fielded complaints from one outfit’s PR representatives that I underreported its figures. (They didn’t get back to me with their official numbers.)

Now, thanks to securities law and Meituan Dianping’s Hong Kong IPO today, I can shed some light on these claims.

Meituan bought one of these bike-sharing startups, Mobike, on April 4, and gives details of its operations in the IPO prospectus. Because it’s generally considered unwise to lie in an offer document, it’s probably safe to assume it’s a reasonably truthful account of what’s happening at the bike rental business.

Compare the details in the prospectus with statements made in press releases and the divergence is striking.