Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing prepares for Watson IPO

By VCPOST Staff Reporter

Nov 29, 2013 01:22 AM EST

Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing is reportedly close to appointing HSBC Holdings Plc as an underwriter in preparation for Watson's initial public offering. According to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), the move came just months after Li aborted a multi-billion dollar sale of his Hong Kong grocery chain ParknShop.

Sources told WSJ on Thursday that Hutchison Whampoa is looking at an initial public offering for A.S. Watson & Co. in the first half of next year. Hutchison Whampoa is a Hong Kong-listed conglomerate that owns Watson. However, no decision has been made on a listing venue for the global retailer. However, a Hong Kong and London listing is the most likely case, the report said. 

A.S. Watson owns health and beauty retailer Superdrug as well as ParknShop. Superdrug has over 870 stores across the United Kingdom and Ireland, WSJ said. 

The report said no fundraising amount has also been fixed. Analysts have valued Waston at USD20 billion to USD25 billion. Other analysts have suggested that the Watson IPO could raise as much as USD10 billion. Should the IPO pushes through, it would be one of Li's biggest asset sales from a listing in recent years. Hutchison Port Holdings Trust was his biggest IPO so far, raising USD5.5 billion in its 2011 Singapore listing, WSJ said.  

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