A.S. Watson is heading to the stock exchange in 2014. The owner of Benelux chains like Kruidvat and ICI Paris XL should be worth some 17 billion euro.
Hong Kong, London or Singapore
Hutchison Whampoa, the Hong Kong holding which owns A.S. Watson, have asked several business banks to guide the IPO, according to Sky News. The holding has not yet decided which stock exchange will host its subsidiary’s IPO. London and Hong Kong seem to be in pole position, but Singapore is still in the running as well.
Hutchison Whampoa, owned by Li Ka-shing (the richest man in Asia at a worth of 22.5 billion euro according to Forbes), had previously stated that it was going to re-evaluate the strategy for its retail activities, including “the possibility of public offerings of all or some of those businesses in appropriate markets”. It was however not considering “giving up control of any of the businesses”.
An average IPO in Hong Kong usually means a quarter of the stock goes to market. In A.S. Watson’s case, the chain of over 11,000 stores worldwide would be worth more than 4.5 billion euro.
(Translated by Gary Peeters)