Mon, Jul 04, 2011 - Page 11 News List

Chinese retail giant Sun Art plans IPO, new hypermarkets

AFP, HONG KONG

China’s leading hypermarket operator, Sun Art Retail Group (高鑫零售), said yesterday it plans to open more than 50 new stores by the end of next year as it seeks to raise up to US$1.06 billion from a Hong Kong share sale.

The retail giant, backed by France’s Groupe Auchan SA, will start to sell 1.14 billion shares, priced between HK$5.65 and HK$7.20 (US$0.72 to US$0.93) each, to investors today. It plans to list on the Hong Kong bourse on July 15.

Company executives said they remained positive despite the recent slump in global stock markets, and planned to use half of the proceeds from the offering to open 51 stores in mainland China by the end of next year.

“We are not too concerned about the global market turmoil — otherwise we would not be here,” chief executive Bruno Mercier told reporters in Hong Kong via videoconference.

Sun Art, which currently has 197 hypermarkets in China, has secured locations for a total of 121 new stores, but has set no date for the opening of the remaining 70, Mercier said.

The retailer said it has secured nine cornerstone investors including Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund.

The group, previously known as Sun Holdings Greater China Ltd, is a joint venture between the Taiwanese supermarket-to--cement conglomerate Ruentex Group (潤泰集團) and Groupe Auchan, a French retailing giant.

The offering, the latest bid by a Chinese firm to tap Hong Kong’s IPO market — the world’s biggest last year — comes despite waning investor interest amid global volatility.

Italian luxury goods maker Prada made a lackluster stock debut in Hong Kong two weeks ago after raising a lower-than-expected US$2.14 billion in its share sale.

Australian miner Resourcehouse last month shelved an IPO originally slated to raise as much as US$3.6 billion, citing weak market conditions.

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