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Biel Crystal revives Hong Kong stock offer plan as glass supplier of Apple, Samsung, Huawei raises capital for expansion

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Biel Crystal Holdings Limited, the world's largest maker of smartphone screens, said it applied to raise capital in Hong Kong, reviving the initial public offering (IPO) that was scuttled three years ago amid the escalating trade war between the United States and China.

The Hong Kong-based company's stock sale will be co-sponsored by JPMorgan Chase, HSBC and China International Capital Corporation (CICC), according to a filing to the Hong Kong stock exchange, without providing financial details.

The IPO plan is a long time coming for Biel's founder Yeung Kin-man, who had planned to raise between US$2 billion and US$2.5 billion either in Hong Kong on mainland China. While the company did not need to raise capital, a stock market listing would boost its profile, Yeung said in an interview last year with the South China Morning Post.

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The timing appears to be more fortuitous for the glass manufacturer, as Hong Kong's first-half bank deposits ballooned by 11.5 per cent to HK$7.87 trillion (US$1.01 trillion), on the heels of two consecutive quarters of economic growth, marking the city's recovery from the coronavirus outbreak. The jump in deposits reflected a net inflow of capital into Hong Kong in anticipation of a flurry of Chinese companies going public as they turn to the world's fourth-largest capital market for funds.

"Investors have appetite for IPOs, depending on [whether] the company is unique," said Louis Tse Ming-kwong, managing director of Wealthy Securities in Hong Kong.

Biel, founded by Leung in 1987, supplies the glass used in smartphone screens, smartwatches, augmented reality and virtual reality glasses and vehicles, counting Apple, Samsung Electronics and Huawei Technologies as among its customers. The company got the first break in when it supplied the glass to Motorola's Razr cellular phones.

Yeung Kin-man, founder and chairman of Biel Crystal Manufactory Limited, during an interview in Kwun Tong on June 14, 2017. Photo: Edmond So alt=Yeung Kin-man, founder and chairman of Biel Crystal Manufactory Limited, during an interview in Kwun Tong on June 14, 2017. Photo: Edmond So

Profit grew by about 71 per cent to HK$3.16 billion in the financial year ended March, from HK$1.85 billion a year earlier, Biel said in its filing.

"The adoption of 5G technology is expected to stimulate the trend of replacing 4G smartphones with 5G [devices], which in turn will lead to an increase in global shipments," the company said.

Worldwide shipment of smartphones grew 13.2 per cent in the second quarter to 313.2 million devices, according to research firm IDC.

Biel had originally planned to go public in 2018, but postponed the plan just as tensions began to escalate between Washington DC and Beijing, as then president Donald Trump slapped import tariffs on China, setting off a tit-for-tat trade war between the world's two largest economies.

Yeung was awarded the 2017 Businessperson of the Year honour by the DHL-SCMP Hong Kong Business Awards.

Yeung and his wife Lam Wai-ying are among Hong Kong's wealthiest people, according to Forbes' latest rankings. Their wealth rose 133 per cent to US$18.6 billion last year, making them the city's fourth-wealthiest persons and the only ones in the top 5 whose wealth was not directly associated with property development.

In 2017, the couple paid HK$2.8 billion for a mansion on The Peak in Hong Kong that measured 51,000 square feet (4,738 square metres).

This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP's Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2021 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

Copyright (c) 2021. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.