Hutchison Whampoa

Hutchison Whampoa may list Watsons, says report

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 02 October, 2013, 3:13pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 October, 2013, 3:27pm

Hutchison Whampoa, controlled by Asia’s richest man, Li Ka-shing, is planning to float its healthcare and beauty retail business Watsons with in the next 12 to 18 months, a Hong Kong newspaper reported on Wednesday.

The Chinese-language Hong Kong Economic Times, quoting market sources, said the initial public offering could raise between US$8 to US$10 billion (HK$62 to HK$77.5 billion).

The report did not specify whether the listing is related to A S Watson Group, which is the retail arm of Hutchison, or just the chain stores operated under the Watsons brand.

Hutchison Whampoa shares rose more than 3.2 per cent to their highest since February 2011 on Wednesday, compared with a 1.1 per cent rise in the benchmark Hong Kong share index by late morning with some traders attributing the rise to the media report.

A Hutchison spokesman declined to comment on the report.

Hutchison is currently undertaking a strategic review of its ParknShop supermarket business and has set an asking price of between US$3 to US$4 billion.

Li’s business empire spans across ports to telecom to real estate and his shrewd business dealings have earned him the nickname “superman”.

His other retail operations also include electronics chain Fortress. Hutchison earned about 53 percent of its 2012 revenue from the retail sector.

Li plans to use the sale proceeds to expand Hutchison’s health and beauty retail operations, which have a bigger global footprint and offer higher margins compared with the supermarket business, Reuters previously reported.