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Weiqiao Textile set for third largest IPO
( 2003-09-02 10:12) (China Daily HK Edition)

China's largest fabric maker, Weiqiao Textile, plans to raise up to HK$2.14 billion (US$274.36 million) from an initial public offering in Hong Kong later this month, a banking source said yesterday.

The company, based in the eastern Chinese province of Shandong, is selling 249.77 million new shares - or 32 per cent of its enlarged share capital - at an indicative range of HK$6.15-HK$8.55 each.

The stock listing will be the third largest on the Hong Kong exchange this year behind share sales by Chinese freight forwarder Sinotrans and toll road firm Hopewell Highway Infrastructure.

It will also be the first major deal to hit the Hong Kong market after the traditionally quiet summer months. Investor sentiment has improved over the past few weeks, sending the blue-chip Hang Seng Index sharply higher.

Weiqiao and its bankers, led by BNP Paribas Peregrine, are marketing the IPO in Hong Kong yesterday.

Pricing of the deal is expected on September 19, with trading in the stock scheduled to begin on Hong Kong's main board on September 24.

Based on the indicative price range, Weiqiao is selling shares at about 9.8 to 13.6 times forecast 2003 earnings on a fully-diluted basis, the source said.

The company expects to earn at least 520 million yuan (US$62.81 million) this year, which would be an 80.4 per cent increase from 2002, according to a preliminary listing document.

Weiqiao generated sales of 4.38 billion yuan (US$539 million) last year, with the mainland and Hong Kong being its largest markets.

Its controlling shareholder is 90 per cent-held by a collectively-owned enterprise in Zouping County in Shandong province, which is not a government body.

Weiqiao plans to use proceeds from the IPO to repay bank loans, expand its product line and pursue possible acquisitions.

An initial 90 per cent of the shares have been set aside for institutional investors, with the rest going to retail punters. Weiqiao may have to boost the size of the deal by up to 15 per cent under a greenshoe option in the IPO.

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