Samsonite falls 7.7 percent in HK debut

HONG KONG Thu Jun 16, 2011 8:28am EDT

Chairman and CEO of Samsonite International Tim Parker (R) poses with a suitcase -- a souvenir for the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, during the trading debut of Samsonite International in Hong Kong June 16, 2011. Shares of Samsonite International SA , the world's biggest luggage maker, dropped as much as 10.6 percent in its trading debut on Thursday, underscoring tepid investor appetites for IPOs in Hong Kong. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

Chairman and CEO of Samsonite International Tim Parker (R) poses with a suitcase -- a souvenir for the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, during the trading debut of Samsonite International in Hong Kong June 16, 2011. Shares of Samsonite International SA , the world's biggest luggage maker, dropped as much as 10.6 percent in its trading debut on Thursday, underscoring tepid investor appetites for IPOs in Hong Kong.

Credit: Reuters/Bobby Yip

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HONG KONG (Reuters) - Samsonite International SA (1910.HK), the world's biggest luggage maker, dropped 7.7 percent in its Hong Kong trading debut on Thursday, underscoring tepid investor appetite for initial public offerings as global markets struggle.

Samsonite's slump is the latest in a string of weak Hong Kong IPO performances as China's strong growth shows signs of weakening and it bodes ill for the impending share sale of Italian fashion house Prada SpA (1913.HK).

"Of course you have to attribute that to the weak sentiment in the market and in the meantime people won't be too interested in IPOs," said Alex Wong, a director with Ample Finance Group.

Prada had filed to raise up to $2.6 billion but on Thursday cut the mid-point of its IPO, reducing the deal's total size to a maximum of $2.3 billion.

The Milan-based company, known for its leather handbags and colorful dresses, filed to sell shares at HK$36.5 to HK$48 each, before narrowing the range to between HK$39.50 and HK$42.25 a share, according to two sources with knowledge of the deal.

Prada's IPO has seen weak demand from Hong Kong retail investors concerned about having to pay capital gains tax in Italy, even as the institutional portion of the float had been five times subscribed.

Prada is due to price the deal on Friday, ahead of a $6 billion Hong Kong IPO early in July by China Everbright Bank (601818.SS).

Named after Samson, the biblical figure with super strength, the company saw its shares close at HK$13.38 and trade as low as HK$12.96. It had priced its offer at HK$14.50 a share, the bottom of a revised indicative range.

The weak debut comes as the benchmark Hang Seng Index .HSI has declined in 10 of the last 11 sessions, down nearly 7 percent and weighing on investor demand for new stock sales.

Of the largest IPOs in Asia this year, only MGM China (2282.HK) posted first-day gains, rising a tepid 1.8 percent, while big names including commodities trader Glencore (0805.HK) and top China wind turbine maker Sinovel (601558.SS) fell.

Despite the poor debut, Samsonite's Chief Executive Tim Parker said during a ceremony at the Hong Kong stock exchange that he was optimistic about the long-term outlook for the stock and expansion in fast-growing Asia.

"The markets are very volatile at the moment, so I feel this is a pretty good way to open actually. I'm not at all displeased," said Parker, who was toting a scarlet-colored Samsonite suitcase with an emblem that said "God of Luggage" in English and Cantonese.

CHINA DEMAND

The company and shareholders, including private-equity firm CVC Capital Partners Ltd CVC.UL and Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc (RBS.L), sold 671.2 million shares to raise HK$9.73 billion ($1.25 billion).

The 101-year old brand is joining companies such as L'Occitane (0973.HK) and Coach (COH.N) that have targeted Hong Kong to raise their profile among Asian consumers or tap deep-pocketed investors to fund expansion in the region.

China's rapid growth has created a new class of consumers in major cities as well as in the countryside that have snapped up everything from luxury shoes to handbags and jewelry.

Concerns about higher interest rates in China, debt troubles in Greece and weak growth in the United States have weighed on several IPOs in recent weeks.

Companies including U.S. lender Ally Financial Inc, Australian mining startup Resourcehouse Ltd and Chinese auto parts company Nanning Baling Technology Co Ltd 002592.SZ have shelved IPOs due to waning investor appetite.

Prada will be the next major test of investor sentiment when it debuts in Hong Kong on June 24. The company's new indicative range to investors produces a mid point of HK$40.875, down from a mid point of HK$42.25 based on the initial range.

Hong Kong IPOs generally attract a lot of interest from retail investors, but they didn't find Samsonite's offer particularly hot.

The Samsonite IPO received bids worth just 1.23 times the shares on offer for retail investors, compared with more than 2,000 times oversubscription for the IPO of handbag retailer Milan Station Holdings Ltd (1150.HK), the most popular offering in 2011.

Samsonite's international offering, which accounted for 90 percent of the total, was "moderately oversubscribed," the company said in a filing on Wednesday, without giving details.

Samsonite had initially set an indicative range for the IPO of HK$13.50 to HK$17.50 per share, but narrowed it to HK$14.50 to HK$15.50 on June 9.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N), HSBC Holdings Plc (0005.HK) (HSBA.L) and Morgan Stanley (MS.N) managed the offering, with UBS AG (UBSN.VX) and RBS acting as joint bookrunners.

Underwriters stand to earn as much as $40.6 million in fees from the deal, equivalent to 3.25 percent of the IPO. ($1 = 7.790 Hong Kong Dollars)

(Additional reporting by Rachel Lee and Fiona Lau; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Vinu Pilakkott)

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