'Weak appetite' won't stop HK IPOs

PUBLISHED : Monday, 13 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 13 February, 2012, 12:00am

Listing candidates Xiwang Special Steel and bakery chain Christine International are pressing ahead with their initial public offerings next week, despite cautions from some brokers about a poor appetite for new listings among retail investors.

Shandong-based Xiwang, a sister company of sweetener maker Xiwang Sugar, plans to raise up to HK$1.68 billion by offering 500 million shares at anywhere between HK$2.65 and HK$3.36 a share. The proceeds are earmarked for funding a new production line and settling unpaid construction costs.

Christine, which is controlled by Taiwanese investors and is one of the mainland's largest bakery chains, with 898 shops mainly in the Yangtze River Delta region, aims to raise HK$550 million. The proceeds will largely be used to open 320 stores in the next two years, which may be done through acquisitions of rivals.

The pair are due to debut on the Hong Kong bourse next Thursday.

Francis Lun Sheung-nim, managing director at Lyncean Securities, said yesterday that retail investors' appetite for IPOs was poor because many of them got burned last year. Some 70 per cent of last year's IPOs sank below their offer prices on their debut or in the first week of the debut.

'Many retail investors have a weak appetite, even though the stock market has recently improved a bit,' Lun said. 'But Xiwang and Christine are relatively smaller IPOs in terms of proceeds, and their subscription should be covered primarily by institutional investors.'

A Xiwang insider said yesterday that the placing portion of its IPO, which accounted for 90 per cent of the offering and was open to institutional investors only, was fully subscribed. It is only offering 50 million shares to retail investors.

Since the beginning of the year the Hang Seng Index has gained 1,876 points or, 9.92 per cent, to 18,906.85 at the close of trade on Friday. It touched 21,000 on Thursday - a level unseen since August of last year.

Xiwang said its net profit margin improved to 11.1 per cent in the first nine months of last year after it lifted the production of higher-margin products.

In the nine-month period, net profit year-on-year more than doubled to 701.75 million yuan (HK$862 million), from 325.54 million yuan.

Upon listing, Xiwang promised to distribute 30 per cent of last year's net profit as dividends.


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