Robinsons Retail cuts Philippines' biggest 2013 IPO by up to a third

Reuters

* Gokongwei family firm seeks up to $777 mln in sale

* Share price range cut from previous maximum value

* Equity markets still fidgety on U.S. debt default

MANILA, Oct 14 (Reuters) - Robinsons Retail Holdings Incsliced up to a third off the value of the Philippines' biggestshare sale this year, hoping a cut-price offer will lureinvestors despite global market jitters over how the UnitedStates' budget showdown will play out.

The department store and supermarket operator, owned by oneof the country's richest families, the Gokongweis, said onMonday it expects to raise 27.9 billion to 33.5 billion pesos($647 million to $777 million) by selling up to 484.75 millionnew shares, including over-allotment options.

It lowered the price of its planned issue to 55 pesos to 66pesos per share from an earlier maximum of 86.64 pesos. Thefinal price will be announced on Oct. 24, with shares due totrade from Nov. 11.

The lower end of the range values the initial publicoffering 36 percent below the 42 billion pesos Robinsons Retailhad originally planned to raise in order to fund expansion ofits domestic stores network. The upper end of the range valuesthe deal at about 20 percent below the previous maximum.

Robinsons Retail is selling shares as Southeast Asian equityfund-raising shows some signs of renewed vigour, with two dealsworth $1.4 billion completed in Malaysia earlier this month. Yetanalysts say a market overhang still exists as long as thepossibility of a U.S. debt default looms.

"The macroeconomic environment will be a key factor, and whathappens in the U.S. will have strong implications for the IPOmarket here," Alvin Lim, managing director and head of Singaporeadvisory at HSBC, said regarding the Southeast Asian region.

CORNERSTONE QUEST

In the Robinsons Retail offer, a portion may go tocornerstone investors from all over the world, said Bach JohannSebastian, senior vice president at Robinsons' parent company JGSummit Holdings. He declined to give more details.

Sebastian said the price guidance gives Robinsons Retail aprice-to-earnings ratio of 20-24 times forecast 2014 net income,below 26 for its nearest local rival, Puregold Price Club, and comparable to the range of 20-30 for regionalpeers such as Indonesia's Matahari Department Store.

"Anybody pricing himself over 15 to 20 times' earnings iscrossing into the expensive category," said Jose Mari Lacson,research head at Campos, Lanuza & Co in Manila. "But people arewilling to pay more than 20 times these days because of theconfidence in the local market, and the country's growth story."

The Robinsons Retail offer may also come at the right timefor the market.

Jose Vistan, research head at AB Capital Securities Inc inManila, said 2014 will be a more difficult environment forequity issues, with interest rates likely to start rising and apossible reversal in currently high liquidity levels.

"But while the volatility will likely curb IPO valuationsand delay some potential listings, we believe investors willeventually return to the market over the longer term," he said,adding the IPO pipeline in the region continues to be strong.

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