Nov 28, 2011
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Hong Kong jeweller aims to raise $2.8 bn in IPO

Nov 28, 2011

Hong Kong, Nov 28, 2011 (AFP) - Hong Kong-based Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Co. told investors Monday it is seeking to raise up to $2.8 billion in an initial public offering that would create a new publicly listed giant in luxury goods.

Chow Tai Fook Jewellery is controlled by Hong Kong real estate tycoon Cheng Yu-tung (AFP/File, Aaron Tam)

The company controlled by Hong Kong real estate tycoon Cheng Yu-tung started booking orders for 1.05 billion shares, or 10.5 percent of its enlarged capital, at HK$15-HK$21 each ($1.92-$2.69), according to Dow Jones Newswires.

The world's biggest jewellery chain with more than 1,300 outlets throughout Asia is hoping investors will snap up the offering to capitalise on the growth in personal wealth in China, where Chow Tai Fook is a market leader.

Analysts said demand for luxury goods looked set to remain strong despite a slowdown in Chinese economic growth and falls on local stock exchanges linked to concerns about domestic inflation and the eurozone crisis.

"We still see very good appetite for luxury goods listing in Hong Kong as we believe the short, medium and long term outlook remains positive," CLSA retail analyst Aaron Fischer told AFP.

"However, the valuation still needs to be reasonable, especially compared to their direct competitors."

Heavy hitters of the China and Hong Kong business worlds, including Henderson Land's Lee Shau Kee and Alibaba's Jack Ma, attended a lunch at the Hong Kong Convention Centre to hear Cheng's presentation of the offering.

The 80-year-old Cheng told reporters he was "happy" to list his company and was confident of the IPO's success, but added: "I do not intend to share the fortune by becoming a shareholder."

China is forecast to be the world's top buyer of luxury products such as cosmetics, handbags, watches, shoes and clothes by 2015, according to consultancy PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

Chow Tai Fook has a large network of stores in China plus outlets in Macau, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan. It also has diamond cutting facilities in South Africa and China, and manufacturing plants in China and Hong Kong.

It plans to expand its number of stores to more than 2,000 by the end of 2016, according to its website.

The company -- a household name in China but virtually unknown in the West -- could raise the size of the offering to as much as $3.4 billion depending on demand, Dow Jones Newswires reported citing a term sheet sent to investors.

With a listing planned for December 15, Chow Tai Fook's potential market capitalisation of $26.7 billion would put it among local heavyweights such as property and infrastructure giant Hutchison Whampoa.

Italian luxury fashion house Prada used Hong Kong as a gateway to tap the Chinese market earlier this year when it raised $2.14 billion ahead of a listing on the Hong Kong stock exchange.

Prada subsequently issued more stock to boost the total amount raised in the listing to more than $2.46 billion.

Other branded companies looking at Hong Kong listing options include Aston Martin, Burberry, Coach, Ducati and Graff Diamonds.

China's deep capital pool helped Hong Kong claim the title of the world's biggest IPO market for the second year in a row in 2010.

But the value of new listings slumped 43 percent in the first 10 months of 2011, according to exchange figures.

by Stephen Coates

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