Amira Nature Foods shares fail to sizzle on debut

Thu Oct 11, 2012 4:34am IST

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REUTERS - Shares in rice trader Amira Nature Foods Ltd (ANFI.N) closed 4 percent lower in their market debut on Wednesday, even after the company cut the price at which it sold its shares.

The Dubai-based seller of packaged Indian specialty rice priced its $90 million initial public offering at $10 per share, below its previously projected price range of $13-$15 per share.

The IPO cuts the ownership of Dubai-based chairman and CEO, Karan Chanana, to around two-thirds from full ownership, according to a company filing. (r.reuters.com/ved33t)

Amira Nature Foods would then own around 85 percent of the group's main operating company, Amira India, with Chanana and affiliates owning the rest, it said.

The structure of the company raised concerns about accountability, said IPO Desktop.com analyst Francis Gaskins.

Such structures are common among Chinese companies looking to list themselves on U.S. exchanges, a reason why Chinese IPOs lack investor confidence, he said.

Company spokespeople were not immediately available for comment.

Amira sells packaged Indian specialty rice in over 40 countries with most of its revenue coming from sales of premium Indian basmati rice.

Amira sells its products through retailers such as Carrefour SA (CARR.PA), Costco (COST.O) and India's Big Bazaar.

The company posted an after-tax profit of $11.9 million from revenue of $329 million for the fiscal year 2012, with two-thirds coming from sales outside of India.

It said it planned to use the proceeds from the share sale to build a new processing facility and pay down debt.

UBS Investment Bank and Deutsche Bank Securities were lead underwriters for the Amira offering.

The stock was among the most traded on the New York Stock Exchange with more than 3.5 million changing hands in the first 30 minutes.

The lackluster debut follows the successful listing of organic food companies Annie Inc BNNY.N and Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage Inc (NGVC.N).

Both stocks have risen by more than a quarter since their listings earlier this year.

Shares of the company closed at $9.58 on the New York Stock Exchange after trading flat for most of the day.

(Reporting by Neha Dimri and Avik Das in Bangalore; Editing by Sreejiraj Eluvangal and Rodney Joyce)

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