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German eye clinic group EuroEyes sets sights on US$90 million IPO in Hong Kong as investor sentiment starts to make a comeback

Martin Choi martin.choi@scmp.com

Germany-based EuroEyes International Eye Clinic announced on Friday that it would seek to list its shares in Hong Kong for up to HK$700 million (US$89 million), the latest in a series of initial public offerings (IPOs) returning to the city as the financial hub endures its worst political crisis.

Investor sentiment has improved in September after trade tensions between the US and China eased somewhat and Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Yuet-ngor formally withdrew the extradition bill which had sparked months of protests in the city.

The improved appetite among investors has made companies more comfortable coming back to the market for new listings.

"We think Hong Kong is still the perfect international gateway into China," said Jorn Slot Jorgensen, chairman and chief executive officer of EuroEyes, one of Germany's largest independent eye surgery groups and the first foreign eye clinic group to open in China, in 2013.

EuroEyes provides specialised corrective surgery for refractive vision errors, with operations in Germany, Denmark and China.

"We plan to open two new clinics in China every year. This year we opened in Beijing East and Hangzhou, and next year we plan to open up in Chongqing and Chengdu," said Jorgensen.

The group already operates six eye surgery clinics in the country. "The market in China is so big, and the penetration rate [for eye surgery] is so low," he added.

"Our future and growth will take place in China, and therefore we felt it very natural that we get listed in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is the perfect stage for us."

EuroEye plans a global offering of 79.3 million shares, in a price range between HK$6.20 and HK$8.80 per share.

That would value the offering at HK$698 million (US$89 million) at the top end of the range.

The Hong Kong public offering would run from September 30 until October 8. Shares are expected to debut on the Hong Kong stock exchange on October 15.

Budweiser offers shares at HK$27 each, handing Hong Kong a US$5 billion IPO

Earlier in September, Budweiser, the Asia-Pacific unit of the world's biggest beer brewer, relaunched its shelved IPO.

It priced its shares at HK$27 each, the bottom end of a price range of between HK$27 and HK$30, in its US$5 billion stock offer, its parent Anheuser-Busch InBev said in a statement.

The offer by the brewer of Corona, Stella Artois and its namesake beer was halved from the US$9.8 billion sale that was shelved in July, after bankers failed to get Budweiser the valuation it wanted amid weakening sentiment from the US-China trade war, and the escalating political crisis in Hong Kong. That earlier listing attempt sought to price shares at between HK$40 and HK$47 each.

Budweiser's stock will begin trading on September 30.

Initial public offerings trickle back to Hong Kong's stock market

Separately, Topsports International Holdings, the sportswear business of Chinese footwear retailer Belle International, launched its Hong Kong IPO of up to US$1.2 billion on Tuesday.

Topsports operates more than 8,000 stores throughout China and held 16 per cent of the country's market share for sportswear sales last year, according to research firm Frost & Sullivan.

The Chinese distributor and retail partner of foreign brands such as Nike and Adidas is selling around 930 million shares in a price range between HK$8.30 and HK$10.10.

The largest sportswear retailer in China is set to price its IPO on October 3, and trading of its shares is scheduled to start on October 10.

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 © 2019 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

Copyright (c) 2019. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.