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WH Group up on Hong Kong IPO debut

Chinese pork giant WH Group, which scrapped an initial public offering worth more than US$5 billion earlier this year, saw a strong Hong Kong trading debut Tuesday (Aug 5) after its shares opened almost 10 per cent higher.

HONG KONG: Chinese pork giant WH Group, which scrapped an initial public offering worth more than US$5 billion earlier this year, saw a strong Hong Kong trading debut Tuesday (Aug 5) after its shares opened almost 10 per cent higher.

Shares in the world's biggest pork firm opened at HK$6.8 ($0.88) at the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on Tuesday and was trading at HK$6.61 in the morning, after raising $2.05 billion with an offering price of HK$6.20 per share.

WH Group had cancelled a planned listing in the southern Chinese city in April blaming "deteriorating" market conditions, but analysts attributed the move to a lack of appetite for the firm.

WH Group had initially said it wanted to raise US$5.3 billion, which would have been the biggest IPO globally for a year and Hong Kong's largest since 2010. It later slashed the valuation of its listing by two thirds to US$1.88 billion blaming concerns about the strength of the city's stock market.

Analysts said they expect the stock to rise by 20 per cent in the near term, Dow Jones Newswire reported. "WH priced at a low valuation this time after its failed first attempt in April, and the recent market sentiment is favourable for fund raising activities, prompting investors looking into the stock," KGI Asia associate director Ben Kwong told Dow Jones.

The company had said in its prospectus that its net profit for the first quarter of 2014 was US$407 million, up from US$125 million from the same quarter a year earlier.

The decision to pull its IPO in April was a blow to Hong Kong's stock exchange, which has been struggling to regain its appeal as a public listings destination after being eclipsed by other bourses. The exchange was left disappointed in March when Alibaba, the world's largest online retailer, opted to list in New York instead following a disagreement over the type of stock it could issue.

WH Group, based in Henan province in central China, is involved in the production, slaughter and distribution of pork, a key ingredient in Chinese cuisine and is also a shareholder of Spanish meat firm Campofrio Food. 

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