Feb 8, 2023
Liquor Maker Guotai Weighing $500 Million Hong Kong IPO, Sources Say
(Bloomberg) -- Guizhou Guotai Liquor Group Co., a Chinese white liquor brand, is considering a Hong Kong initial public offering that could raise more than $500 million, according to people familiar with the matter.
The company is working with China International Capital Corp. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. on the potential first-time share sale, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information isn’t public. A listing could happen as soon as this year, they said.
Considerations are at an early stage and details of the offering such as size and timing could change, the people said. A representative for CICC declined to comment, while Guotai and JPMorgan didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
Liquor companies are among those banned from IPOs on China’s domestic stock exchanges as the country reforms its listing system, Bloomberg News has reported, depriving them of potentially higher valuations onshore. Guotai filed for a possible IPO in Shanghai in 2020, according to a preliminary document.
Guotai would instead join other companies that make baijiu, a strong-flavored white liquor, in seeking listings in Hong Kong. Zhen Jiu, a rival brand, is considering raising as much as $400 million in a listing in the Asian financial hub this year, people familiar with the matter have said.
Baijiu has long been a staple of Chinese dining tables. Liquor brands, especially high-end ones such as those produced by Kweichow Moutai Co. and Wuliangye Yibin Co., have found favor with investors due to their high margins and the resilience of their sales amid economic turmoil, though they have sometimes been targeted in President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaigns.
Read More: China Liquor Stocks Roiled as Drinking Ban Speculation Swirls
Founded in 1999, Guotai sells high-end white liquor for as much as 2,999 yuan ($442) a bottle, according to its website. In 2021, its sales including tax exceeded 10 billion yuan, the website shows. The company is based in Guizhou, home to some of the country’s best known liquor brands, which use water from nearby mountains.
--With assistance from Claire Che.
(Updates with banks in second paragraph and comments.)
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