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Chinese hotpot chain Haidilao said to consider US$300m IPO

[HONG KONG] Sichuan Haidilao Catering, the Chinese hotpot chain offering free manicures to waiting customers, is considering an initial public offering that could raise as much as US$300 million, people with knowledge of the matter said.

The Beijing-based restaurant operator has held talks with investment banks about a share sale that could take place as soon as next year, said the people, asking not to be identified as the information is private. Haidilao is considering Hong Kong as a listing venue, though it hasn't made a final decision, the people said.

Haidilao would follow rival hotpot chains Little Sheep Group and Xiabuxiabu Catering Management China Holdings in selling shares to raise funds for expansion. Shares of Xiabuxiabu, which is part-owned by General Atlantic LLC, have fallen 28 per cent since its US$143 million Hong Kong IPO in December 2014.

A representative at Haidilao said the company hasn't finalized an IPO plan and declined to comment further.

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The restaurant chain is known for its spicy Sichuan-style food and attentive customer service, which includes giving customers free shoulder massages and dance performances. Haidilao, founded in 1994, has about 130 outlets across China as well as locations in Los Angeles, Singapore, Seoul and Tokyo, according to its website.