Medtronic may seek Asian listing in future to fund regional growth

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 March, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 March, 2011, 12:00am


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Medtronic, the largest maker of medical products for the spine, may tap Asian stock markets in the future to raise funds for expansion in the region, according to executive vice-president Jean-Luc Butel.

'We'll have serious considerations on listing here,' Butel said. 'To list in Asia is a possibility.'

Butel, also group president of Medtronic International, said the company would consider an initial public offering in Asia when it needs more funds for growth in the region.

Medtronic now has a strong financial position with enough to support its developments in Asia, particularly China, Butel said.

'We have the money now,' he said. 'Free cash flow is good.'

Medtronic opened its regional headquarters in Shanghai yesterday, pledging to develop more products and localise production.

The Minnesota-based company owns 15 per cent of Hong Kong-listed Shandong Weigao Medical Polymer and also has a joint venture with Weigao, which markets spinal and orthopaedic products in the country.

China is Medtronic's fourthlargest market after the United States, Japan and Germany. Sales in China now account for 3.2 per cent of the company's global total. Sales in the Asia-Pacific excluding Japan represent 8 per cent of its total.

An ageing population and rising affluence have created opportunities for Medtronic to seek faster growth on the mainland.

Simon Li, president of Medtronic in China, said business in the market was growing five times faster than Japan, and he expected China to become the company's second-largest market in five to eight years.

Twenty per cent of China's population is expected to be aged over 65 by 2040, up from 7 per cent in 2007, according to the United Nations Development Programme.

Medtronic said it would step up investment in the mainland, without elaborating. It will hire an additional 1,000 skilled staff in China over the next five years, Li said.

Butel said protection of intellectual property remains a concern on the mainland, though the government has been increasingly aware of the issue.

Medtronic opened its first mainland office in Shanghai in 1996.