Business

Jeweller Chow Tai Fook launches Hong Kong share sale

Chow Tai Fook storefront in Hong Kong
Image caption China has become the largest market in the world for some luxury goods makers

Jeweller Chow Tai Fook says it aims to raise up to HK$22bn ($2.8bn) by going public on the Hong Kong stock exchange.

The company will sell 1.05 billion shares to investors to be priced between HK$15 to HK$21 a share.

While its name does not register far outside its home market, Chow Tai Fook is a major brand in China and is just as well known as Tiffany or Cartier.

If successful, it could be the largest initial public offering (IPO) in Hong Kong this year.

The jeweller's shares are expected to begin trading on December 15, the company said.

Brands

Chow Tai Fook, which means good luck in Chinese, may raise more than Italian fashion house Prada, the most high-profile of a number of big-name brands to list in Hong Kong in recent years as companies increasingly target China's newly affluent consumers.

Prada raised $2.5bn in June. Luggage firm Samsonite and French cosmetics firm L' Occitane have gone public in Hong Kong and US handbag maker Coach recently completed a secondary listing here.

"Many of our customers have remained loyal to us over the years and generations when they've bought diamonds and other valuable pieces," said Henry Cheng, Chow Tai Fook's chairman.

Mr Cheng is the son of Hong Kong tycoon Cheng Yu-tung, the former British territory's fifth richest man.

"Now our senior management team is focused on expanding our retail network and geographical footprint in China, " he added.

Chow Tai Fook said it will use half of the proceeds from the stock market flotation to buy raw materials, including raw and polished diamonds, precious metals and watches, to support the company's expansion plans. The money will also be used to pay off bank loans.

According to a report by consultants Frost & Sullivan quoted in the firm's listing documents, China's jewellery market is the second largest in the world, with sales worth $38.8bn. It is expected to grow at 39% a year and overtake the US by 2015.

Chow Tai Fook said it concentrates on the "mass luxury" segment, with prices ranging from $250 to $13,000, and gold jewellery accounting for more than half of sales.

For the year ended March 2012, the company expects to make a net profit of HK$6.3bn ($800m), compared to HK$3.67bn in the previous year.

If demand is strong the company said it could sell an added 20% of shares from Mr Cheng and his family.

The company's stock code will be 1929 - the year it was founded.

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