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China's WuXi AppTec launches U$1b HK listing

Hong Kong

SHANGHAI-listed Chinese medical tech platform WuXi AppTec has launched a Hong Kong listing of up to US$1.06 billion, braving weak markets and testing investor sentiment after a string of badly performing initial public offerings (IPOs).

WuXi's listing comes after other companies have had to drastically scale back their funding ambitions because of jittery markets, such as online parenting firm Babytree Group and online travel agent Tongcheng-Elong. Others still have put off their IPO plans as they wait out the market uncertainty.

That makes WuXi's hopes of raising between US$954 million and US$1.06 billion especially ambitious. The company is selling 116.47 million shares at a price range of HK$64.10 (S$11.28) to HK$71.50, a discount of 19-27 per cent to its closing price of 78.36 yuan (S$15.52) on Tuesday, according to two sources familiar with the deal.

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The company could raise up to US$1.2 billion if a greenshoe, or over-allotment option, is exercised.

Hong Kong is on track to become the world's top IPO centre by volume this year, with US$33.2 billion raised so far, Refinitiv data show.

But most deals have sunk below their IPO prices, buffeted by concerns over a worsening China-US trade war and slowing China growth that have roiled markets.

Chinese food delivery-to-ticketing services company Meituan Dianping raised US$4.2 billion in its September IPO in what was the world's biggest Internet-focused listing in four years, but its shares have since slumped over 30 per cent.

Smartphone maker Xiaomi has also fallen 14.5 per cent since listing in July, while the Hong Kong benchmark index has fallen 11 per cent this year.

Shanghai-based WuXi describes itself as the largest global pharmaceutical research and development (R&D) services platform in Asia by revenue, providing research and manufacturing services, and testing services for medical devices.

The company had revenues of 4.41 billion yuan in the first half of this year, up from 3.67 billion yuan in the same period last year, according to its prospectus.

WuXi's profits jumped 67 per cent year-on-year to 1.3 billion yuan in the first half of 2018.

It intends to use the IPO proceeds to expand its capacity across all business units globally, invest in seven China projects such as a Chengdu R&D campus and set up a bioanalytical laboratory in San Diego, California, according to the prospectus.

It also intends to fund the acquisition of contract research organisation companies.

The deal is expected to be priced on Dec 6 and list on Dec 13, according to one of the sources.

Goldman Sachs, Huatai Financial and Morgan Stanley are sponsoring the IPO. REUTERS