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China Tea Chain Heytea Taps UBS for $500 Million Hong Kong IPO

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(Bloomberg) -- Heytea, the Chinese teahouse chain, has tapped UBS Group AG for its potential Hong Kong initial public offering as soon as next year, according to people familiar with the matter.

The company, which is famous for its cheese-foam teas, could raise at least $500 million in an IPO, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information isn’t public. Plans are still preliminary and other banks that have had discussions with Heytea could be added to the lineup, the people said.

Details of the potential IPO such as size and timing could still change, the people said. A Heytea representative said they don’t have any IPO plans at this moment, and declined to comment on whether they are considering a listing. A representative for UBS declined to comment.

Several of China’s teahouses are eyeing IPOs in Hong Kong next year after bubble tea chain Nayuki Holdings Ltd. raised $654 million in a June share sale. The candidates include Mixue Bingcheng Co., which makes ice cream and tea, fruit tea chain ChaBaiDao, milk tea chain Gu Ming and brown sugar milk tea chain Lelecha, Bloomberg News has reported.

Shenzhen-based Heytea, formally called Shenzhen Meixixi Catering Management Co., started in 2012 in Guangdong province, according to its website. Its original recipe is a combination of salt, cheese and tea, but it also makes fruit teas. The chain, which operates all its own stores and does not use a franchise model, has expanded across China and also has locations in Singapore.

Heytea has attracted backers including IDG Capital, Sequoia Capital China and Hillhouse. The company was valued at more than 60 billion yuan ($9.3 billion) after its latest funding round, Bloomberg News reported in July.

(Updates with Heytea’s locations and business model in fifth paragraph.)

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