October 21, 2019 / 1:09 AM / 23 days ago

Warburg Pincus-backed ESR revives HK IPO with bigger deal up to $1.45 billion

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Property investor ESR Cayman Ltd (1821.HK), backed by private-equity firm Warburg Pincus [WP.UL], relaunched an initial public offering (IPO) worth up to $1.45 billion on Monday in what could be Hong Kong’s second-biggest deal this year.

ESR has lined up OMERS Administration Corporation, among Canada’s largest pension funds, as a cornerstone investor, something it had not secured when it initially attempted an IPO in June.

OMERS is expected to take a stake worth an estimated $585 million based on the mid-point of the IPO’s price range.

ESR, which manages a range of property-focused funds and its own property investments, started book-building for its float on Monday.

In June it had planned to raise up to $1.24 billion but pulled the deal just before it was due to price, citing market conditions.

“For an IPO you have to be cognizant of what’s happening in the geopolitical environment and in the overall macro environment. So, we had felt at that time, at the banks’ guidance, that it was not the best time in going forward with the transaction,” ESR Chairman Jeffrey Perlman said at a press conference to launch the deal.

“The confidence now is evident in the substantial cornerstone investment that has been made.”

Companies are pushing ahead with listing plans in Asia’s top financial hub despite months of anti-government protests in Hong Kong.

AB InBev floated its Asia-Pacific unit (1876.HK) in Hong Kong’s biggest listing this year in September.

Based on ESR’s price range of HK$16.2 to HK$17.4 ($2.07-$2.22) a share, the firm could raise up to $1.45 billion before any over-allocation option is included, giving it a market capitalization of $6.27-$6.74 billion, a term sheet seen by Reuters showed.

The valuation is the same as that sought by ESR in its June IPO attempt.

Existing shares will make up 57.1% of the deal, which includes an option allowing insiders to sell more shares, worth up to 15% of the base deal.

Using that “offer size adjustment” option would net sellers additional funds of as much as $218 million.

At least seven existing shareholders are selling shares in the IPO, including a Warburg Pincus unit, a Goldman Sachs unit and e-commerce firm JD.com Inc’s (JD.O) Jingdong Logistics Group Corp, the term sheet showed.

CLSA and Deutsche Bank are joint sponsors for the IPO. Morgan Stanley has joined as the leading joint global coordinator.

ESR was formed in 2016 by the merger of the Japan-centric Redwood Group and China-focused e-Shang, co-founded by Warburg Pincus in 2011.

Its shares will be priced on Oct. 25 and trading is scheduled to start on Nov. 1.

IPO ACTIVITY PICKS UP

Hong Kong topped the global charts in 2018 for funds raised through IPOs.

But roiled by a five-month long political crisis, it is currently lagging both the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq with $18.5 billion raised as of mid-October, Refinitiv data showed.

That compared with $21.9 billion on the NYSE and $23.3 billion on Nasdaq.

But IPO activity in the city has picked up, marked by AB InBev’s Budweiser Brewing Company APAC Ltd (1876.HK), which raised about $5 billion in Hong Kong’s biggest and the world’s second-largest IPO so far this year.

It had dropped plans for a bigger float in July, just as the deal was meant to price, citing market conditions among other factors.

Reporting by Julie Zhu and Sumeet Chatterjee; editing by Himani Sarkar and Jason Neely

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