Thailand’s largest retailer, Central Retail Corp, priced its initial public offering (IPO) near the top end of an indicative range, in a deal worth about $2.6 billion, setting up the listing of the country’s largest IPO this month.
The company, controlled by the billionaire Chirathivat family’s Central Group, priced its IPO at 42 baht ($1.36) per share, three people with direct knowledge of the deal told Reuters on Wednesday.
The launch of the IPO comes as global markets have weakened on worries that a new coronavirus outbreak in China would dampen economic growth globally.
The death toll from the epidemic has climbed to nearly 500 in China, mostly in and around the locked-down central city of Wuhan where the virus emerged late last year.
In mid-January, Central Retail set an indicative price band of 40 to 43 baht for its IPO and secured cornerstone investors including Capital Research Management and Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC.
Since then, the virus outbreak in China has escalated and the economic impact of the epidemic has been felt globally. Thailand’s stocks index .SETI has fallen about 4% and the baht has also weakened.
“The negative sentiments surrounding markets and weakening Thai economy are short-term bearish concerns, still the quality of Central Retail’s asset base justifies the IPO price,” said Oshadhi Kumarasiri, an equity analyst at LightStream Research, who writes on Smartkarma platform.
The IPO, first announced in July, comes after Thailand took the top spot in Southeast Asia in 2019 with $4 billion in fundraisings, according to Refinitiv data. A slew of large issues is in the pipeline for this year.
Central Retail’s IPO is set to raise a total of about $2.6 billion including a share swap of its subsidiary, said one of the people, who declined to be identified as the pricing has not been officially announced.
As part of its listing plans, the firm will delist retail unit Robinson PCL and offer a share swap to Robinson’s existing shareholders.
“Though their (Central Retail’s) assets look very mature and may even experience sales per area decline, the assets in Vietnam and Italy have very positive outlooks,” said Athaporn Arayasantiparb, an analyst at M Corp Review.
Central Retail had no comment on the pricing. Its shares are due to start trading later this month.
Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse and UBS are the main international banks working on the IPO.