SOURCE / COMPANIES
Nongfu Spring, Ant Financial latest firms to join HK listing boom
Published: Aug 25, 2020 08:33 PM

A worker in a Nongfu Spring facility in Hangzhou, East China's Zhejiang Province in February 2020 Photo: cnsphoto


Chinese bottled water giant Nongfu Spring will raise up to HK$8.35 billion ($1.08 billion) in its upcoming Hong Kong listing, its prospectus showed on Tuesday, one of the latest companies to embrace a listing boom on the Hong Kong exchange - the exact opposite of what US President Donald Trump believes. 

The beverage maker based in Hangzhou, East China's Zhejiang Province plans to sell 388.23 million shares priced at between HK$19.50 and HK$21.50, according to its prospectus filed with Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing, the operator of the Hong Kong stock market. 

Nongfu Spring's H shares are expected to start trading on September 8, the listing documents show. 

Also on Tuesday, Alibaba's fintech arm Ant Financial filed for a blockbuster dual listing in the Hong Kong market and the STAR Market in Shanghai. Ant Financial plans to sell at least 30 billion shares through its dual offering, read its prospectus submitted to the Shanghai Stock Exchange. Alibaba Group holds a 33-percent stake in Ant Financial. 

The latest additions to the Hong Kong market, which build on a pressure-defying listing spree, come amid hopes of eased quarantine rules in the coronavirus pandemic. 

Unless a new reversal occurs in the local pandemic spread, some restrictions will be eased on Friday, Sophia Chan Siu-chee, secretary for food and health of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), said Tuesday, according to media reports. 

Evening dine-in services will be extended to 9pm, and cinemas, beauty salons and outdoor sports facilities with little physical contact will be reopened, and local residents won't need to wear masks outside, Chan stated. 

The easing of social-distancing measures would apparently brighten the outlook for the city's economy, beefing up the attractiveness of the local equity market, which has become a hot venue, especially for Chinese companies shifting their listings away from the US market, observers said.

With the central government's firm support for the HKSAR, the Hong Kong market - the most aligned with international standards among Chinese exchanges - is expected to flex its muscles as a global financial hub, Sun Lijian, director of the Financial Research Center at Fudan University, told the Global Times.

Investors bullish on Chinese-inspired growth opportunities won't be intimidated by US threats. They would instead continue to pour into the Hong Kong market, Sun said.

The successful listings of NetEase and JD.com are considered to have laid the foundations for more offerings. 

With volatility in global financial markets amid the COVID-19 pandemic, stable asset values have become rare and are much sought after by global investors, ICBC International economists Cheng Shi and Wang Yuzhe said in a research report sent to the Global Times. 

Yuan-denominated assets remain comparatively resilient and the shift to Chinese markets heralded by Alibaba, JD.com and NetEase is making US-listed Chinese stocks much sought-after investment options, the economists stated.  

US-listed Yum China, the operator of KFC and Pizza Hut, is also reportedly eyeing a $2 billion secondary listing in Hong Kong and might undergo a listing hearing as soon as this week. 

Ironically, Trump said in an interview with Fox News earlier in August that "Hong Kong will not be a successful exchange anymore," as US exchanges are likely to pick up more business after his administration's move to end the HKSAR's special economic status. 


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