By Joanne Chiu
China's largest restaurant company has begun taking orders for a Hong Kong share sale that could raise more than $2.5 billion, in the latest move by a U.S.-listed Chinese company to seek a secondary listing in Hong Kong.
The offering by Yum China Holdings Inc., which operates KFC and Pizza Hut in China, reflects how the Chinese economy is moving past the coronavirus pandemic. As the outbreak peaked in February, Yum China was forced to close more than a third of its outlets, but it said in its prospectus nearly all of its restaurants were open as of end-July, even though sales and profits were still trending unevenly.
The deal, led by Goldman Sachs, would add to a series of recent secondary listings in Hong Kong by Chinese companies whose shares are already traded in New York, such as Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., JD.com Inc. and NetEase Inc.
Meanwhile, Ant Group Co., the Chinese technology and financial-services giant, is bypassing New York and planning initial public offerings in Hong Kong and Shanghai.
The Hong Kong share sales come as tensions between the U.S. and China widen to include financial-markets issues.
Yum China will sell about 41.91 million shares and plans for its stock to start trading in Hong Kong on Sept. 10, a term sheet seen by The Wall Street Journal showed.
The maximum offer price for the small portion of the deal reserved for individual investors is 468 Hong Kong dollars (US$60.37), representing a premium of about 7% to Yum China's closing price in New York Friday. That price implies a total deal size of about US$2.5 billion, although the price for institutional investors might be slightly different.
On the same basis, the final deal size could increase to US$2.9 billion if underwriters exercise an option to sell 15% more shares. The company will fix the offer price on Sept. 4.
Shares of Yum China have risen since U.S. fast-food operator Yum Brands Inc. spun it off as a separately listed company in late 2016. Its stock has gained nearly 18% this year, outperforming Yum Brands and McDonald's Corp.
Yum China in July reported a 26% drop in net income to $132 million in the second quarter, as the pandemic disrupted store traffic and tourism, with some regions of China suffering outbreaks of coronavirus infections. Its revenue dropped 11% year-over-year to $1.9 billion during the quarter.
The company said it plans to use the deal proceeds to expand its restaurant network and invest in digitization and supply-chain overhauls, among other things.
Write to Joanne Chiu at firstname.lastname@example.org