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Warburg Pincus-backed ESR files for up to $1.5 bln Hong Kong IPO -sources

(Updates valuation)

By Julia Fioretti and Julie Zhu

HONG KONG, March 1 (Reuters) - Logistics real estate developer ESR Cayman Limited, backed by private equity firm Warburg Pincus, has filed for a listing in Hong Kong to raise at least $1 billion, two sources said, with one saying the size may be as much as $1.5 billion.

ESR joins a smaller pipeline of companies looking to go public in Hong Kong this year, after the exchange took first place globally in terms of IPO volume last year, with companies raising $36.3 billion.

But while 2018 was a bumper year for listings, the post-listing performance was patchy, with companies such as Xiaomi and Meituan Dianping - which both raised billions of dollars in their IPOs - still trading below their offer prices.

Bankers expect investors to demand more reasonable valuations even as markets enjoy a rally, with the Hong Kong benchmark index up 11.5 percent so far this year.

One of the sources said the ESR's initial public offering would likely take place in the next one to two quarters.

ESR declined to comment. The sources declined to be named as the information was not public.

The company was valued at almost $5 billion in its last funding round in May 2018, one of the sources said.

ESR, the largest Asia-Pacific focused logistics real estate platform, was formed by a merger of Shanghai-based warehousing services firm e-Shang and Singaporean logistics real estate investment firm The Redwood Group in 2016.

It develops and manages logistics facilities that cater to e-commerce companies, bricks-and-mortar retailers and manufacturers, according to the draft prospectus available on the Hong Kong stock exchange website on Friday.

ESR also manages a range of funds and investment vehicles that invest in logistics properties, the prospectus said.

It made a profit of $137.6 million on revenue of $170.2 million in the first nine months of 2018, an increase of about 7 percent year-on-year, according to the prospectus.

Chinese online retailer JD.com Inc invested $306 million in ESR in April last year through its logistics unit. ESR said that it would cooperate with JD.com in areas including property development, fund management and investment across the region.

Warburg Pincus co-founded e-Shang in 2011 with two Chinese entrepreneurs and brought in investors such as APG Asset Management NV, CPPIB and Goldman Sachs.

CLSA and Deutsche Bank