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Chinese bear bile firm seeks expansion despite IPO pullout

By Wang Ruoyao, Zhou Yan and Hu Su (Xinhua)

17:27, June 08, 2013

BEIJING, June 8 (Xinhua) -- A Chinese bear bile firm has pledged to expand its business after withdrawing its application for an initial public offering (IPO).

Guizhentang Pharmaceutical, which extracts bile from live bears' gallbladders to produce traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), is among 269 companies that have abandoned their IPO plans so far this year, the China Securities Regulatory Commission said on May 31.

The commission, however, did not give any reason for the pullouts.

Guizhentang terminated the plan because "the time is not ripe," Wu Ya, the company's board secretary, said Wednesday.

But the setback will not stall the company's ongoing expansion projects or stunt its future development, Wu said.

The company will continue to enlarge its bear bile farm in order to triple its current stock of black bears to over 1,200, Wu said.

Construction on the first phase of the farm started in 2009 and has yet to be completed, according to the company's website.

In addition, the company is planning to develop new drugs containing bear bile extract and will open 600 new franchise stores in the following three years, Wu said.

He said the company expects to reap 1 billion yuan (163.1 million U.S. dollars) in revenue within five years, but declined to give revenue figures for recent years.

Guizhentang may resume its IPO plan when "conditions are ripe," Wu said, adding that the company will raise the money it needs through other channels, as well as its shareholders.

However, Guizhentang's ambitions have been called into question by animal rights activists, who have argued that the company's goals contradict the government's promise to stop existing bear bile farms from growing.

At the 2012 Congress of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Nature Resources (IUCN) held in September, a Chinese delegation agreed on a resolution that requires measures to prevent an increase in the number of captive bears in member states where bear bile farming remains legal.

In 2011, Guizhentang made its first attempt to go public, but the plan was aborted amid protests targeting its treatment of bears. The fundraising was aimed at expanding its farm bear population and increasing its annual output.

A second try one year later was met with fierce opposition from the public, animal welfare groups and celebrities, including retired NBA star Yao Ming.

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