Kerry Logistics share offer draws strong interest

Logistics firm is expected to benefit from Shanghai's services push in the free-trade zone

PUBLISHED : Monday, 09 December, 2013, 4:50am
UPDATED : Monday, 09 December, 2013, 5:28am

The international tranche of Kerry Logistics Network's HK$2.2 billion initial public offering is three times oversubscribed, according to market sources.

Two national sovereign funds in Southeast Asia, including Singapore's GIC, are among the investors.

The share issue came at a time when Kerry Logistics was poised to benefit from the creation of the Shanghai free-trade zone because the city was pressing hard to boost the services industry with the zone, said the group's chairman, George Yeo.

"We are studying the evolution of the free-trade zone in Shanghai very closely, though the policy is not yet very clear," Yeo told the South China Morning Post. "I think China is taking an experimental approach, adjusting the rules and testing new ideas as it goes along.

"China wants to promote the services industry and we are in the services industry. So we think we should benefit from this."

Kerry Logistics owns a warehouse in the zone and has registered five subsidiaries there to take advantage of the lower tax rate and simplified restrictions on cargo flow.

A logistics manager at a luxury brand said the zone would encourage more multinational brands to set up regional distribution hubs in Shanghai, which would boost demand for warehouse space in the city.

Currently, the mainland exercised stringent inspection policies, which had held up the distribution of its products, but these policies were expected to be relaxed in the zone as early as the first quarter of next year, he said.

Hong Kong's warehousing operations, which account for 30 per cent of Kerry Logistics' operating profits, are coming under increasing competition from the Shanghai free-trade zone.

While Yeo did not comment on the direct impact of the zone, he said some multinational brands were likely to consider setting up distribution centres in Shanghai.

Kerry Logistics disposed of one of its warehouses in Kowloon Bay to its parent company, Kerry Properties, before its share offer. The warehouse will be redeveloped into a residential project.

"Hong Kong warehouses remain a very important business for us," said William Ma, the managing director of Kerry Logistics. "If there are opportunities for us to buy more warehouses in Hong Kong, we will do so."

Kerry Properties is part of the Kerry Group, which also controls SCMP Group, publisher of the South China Morning Post.