Asian companies lead IPOs in US

08:16, November 01, 2010      

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Le Gaga Holdings Ltd, the Hong Kong-based greenhouse vegetable producer, raised $103 million in an initial public offering (IPO) at the end of last month, as Asian companies led the busiest month for US IPOs in almost three years.

Stocks in the seller of produce to supermarkets in Hong Kong and mainland jumped 19 percent on Friday after pricing its US depositary receipts at $9.50 each, the top end of its forecast range, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. A total of 21 companies sold shares through IPOs in October, the most since 22 initial sales in December 2007, according to the data.

Companies in Asia, the world's fastest growing region, have recorded six of the 10 largest gains among IPOs in the United States this year. ChinaCache International Holdings Ltd, the Beijing-based provider of Internet content to businesses, this month had the biggest first-day rally for a New York listing in three years.

"That's where everybody wants their money and where the hot story is right now," said Timothy Cunningham, a money manager at Santa Fe, New Mexico-based Thornburg Investment Management, which oversees about $69 billion. "Especially for China, you have a nice long-term growth story there."

Le Gaga intends to use the money to build greenhouses and improve other facilities, its Securities and Exchange Commission filing showed. The company will also use proceeds for research and development. Bank of America Corp of Charlotte, North Carolina, and Zurich-based UBS AG led the offering.

Economic growth

"We're happy," said Ma Shing Yung, Le Gaga's chairman and chief executive officer. The IPO was priced "at the high end of the price range, so we're very happy about it", he said.

Revenue at Le Gaga rose 41 percent to 281 million yuan ($41.4 million) in its fiscal year ended March 31, its filing showed. The company's profit increased 82 percent.

Le Gaga operates 16 farms in the Chinese provinces of Fujian, Guangdong and Hebei, according to its filing. Le Gaga uses greenhouses to grow vegetables at most of its farms in Fujian and Guangdong. Its two farms in Hebei produce vegetables that grow best in a cooler climate, the filing showed.

Asian economies will grow 6.6 percent next year, according to the Washington-based International Monetary Fund. China's economy will expand 9.6 percent. In the US, where at least 55 companies have postponed or withdrawn IPOs this year, economic growth will slow to 2.3 percent in 2011, the estimates show.

Reassessing risk

Benchmark interest rates near zero percent in the US have also increased demand for higher-yielding assets, leading more investors to IPOs, said Jason Cooper, who oversees $2.5 billion at 1st Source Investment Advisors in South Bend, Indiana.

"People are finding it hard to continue to put money into assets that are earning very little and will continue to earn very little," Cooper said. "People are reassessing how much risk they're willing to take."

That's "probably helped the IPO market," he said.

Companies from Asia have led the rebound. Shares in JinkoSolar Holding Co, the maker of silicon wafers in China's Jiangxi province, has gained 174 percent. Equity in HiSoft Technology International Ltd, the Dalian-based company that helps businesses outsource software development, rose 166 percent.

Shares in MakeMyTrip Ltd, India's largest online travel company, based in Gurgaon, climbed 158 percent.

The last two Chinese IPOs in October, Beijing-based TAL Education Group, and Mecox Lane Ltd of Shanghai, both advanced at least 50 percent on their first day of trading.

More IPOs

Seven companies are seeking to raise a combined $1.02 billion through US IPOs this week, which would be the most in four months, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The first four will come from companies outside the US. Xueda Education Group and SinoTech Energy Ltd of Beijing will offer American depositary receipts after equity in three of the five Chinese companies that completed US IPOs last month climbed at least 40 percent.

Xueda Education, which provides tutoring services for primary and secondary school students in China, plans to raise $124 million by offering 13.43 million ADRs at $7.25 to $9.25 apiece on Monday, its US Securities and Exchange Commission filing showed. SinoTech Energy, which provides enhanced oil recovery services in China, is seeking $188 million the next day, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

SodaStream International Ltd, the seller of home soda makers based in Airport City, Israel, will also attempt to sell $95 million of shares. Costamare Inc, the Athens-based owner of container ships, plans to raise $226 million on Wednesday.

Source:China Daily


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