China retail giant raises $1.06bn in Hong Kong IPO

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China's leading hypermarket operator Sun Art Retail Group has raised $1.06 billion in a Hong Kong share sale, defying recent volatility in the world's biggest IPO market.

The retail giant, backed by France's Groupe Auchan SA, has sold 1.14 billion shares at HK$7.20 (93 US cents) each, the top end of its price range, Dow Jones Newswires said, quoting an unnamed source.

The firm, which will start trading in Hong Kong on July 15, has an option to increase the offering by 15 percent if the shares are oversubscribed, which will boost the deal to $1.2 billion.

Company executives have said they were positive on the share sale and planned to use half of the proceeds to open 51 stores in mainland China by the end of next year.

Sun Art currently has 197 hypermarkets in China.

The group, previously known as Sun Holdings Greater China Ltd, is a joint venture between Taiwanese supermarket-to-cement conglomerate Ruentex Group and Groupe Auchan.

The offering, the latest bid by a Chinese firm to tap Hong Kong's IPO market -- the world's biggest in 2010 for the second year in a row -- comes despite a batch of weak new listings.

Some firms have recently decided to delay or cancel their listings in Hong Kong citing turmoil global markets.

Italian luxury goods maker Prada made a lacklustre debut in the financial hub in June after raising a lower-than-expected $2.14 billion in its share sale.

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

© 2011 AFP

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