Sagging markets claim another deal, Graff pulls HK IPO

Wed May 30, 2012 9:14pm EDT

A suited bodyguard stands next to a jewellery display window during the Graff Diamonds IPO roadshow in Hong Kong May 21, 2012. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

A suited bodyguard stands next to a jewellery display window during the Graff Diamonds IPO roadshow in Hong Kong May 21, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Tyrone Siu

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(Reuters) - London luxury jeweler Graff Diamonds has pulled its planned $1 billion initial public offer on the Hong Kong stock exchange due to adverse market conditions, a spokeswoman said on Thursday, making it the city's third major deal to be canned this week.

Graff was scheduled this week to price what was set to be Asia's biggest IPO this year. The company, founded by Briton Laurence Graff in 1960, hoped a listing would provide added capital and give the group an Asia hub to better access the China market.

Some analysts and fund managers had already begun questioning the company's valuation before Wednesday's global market sell-off, citing a slowdown in luxury spending in China.

The benchmark Hang Seng index .HSI has fallen heavily since Graff started meeting investors, with stocks in the luxury goods sector hit hard.

On Wednesday, U.S. stocks and pan-European and global share indices all lost more than 1 percent as fears over the euro zone crisis gripped investors. <MKTS/GLOB>

Born to Jewish immigrant parents in London, Graff has kept control of the jeweler firm since its beginning, attracting a host of clients, including royals and celebrities such as the sultan of Brunei, Oprah Winfrey and Imelda Marcos.

Copper producer China Nonferrous Mining Corp pulled its planned Hong Kong initial public offering of up to $313 million on Wednesday due to worsening market conditions.

That followed automobile dealer China Yongda Automobiles Services, which scrapped its $434 million offering on Monday.

Europe's debt troubles and a slowdown in China's economic growth have made investors cautious, causing Hong Kong's IPO pipeline to clamp shut. Deal volumes in the city are down more than 80 percent so far this year.

Hong Kong's benchmark Hang Seng index .HSI is down around 10 percent, dropping 1.9 percent on Wednesday alone.

IPOs had their worst start in about four years in the Asia-Pacific region in 2012, with overall equity market activity down about a fifth from 2011.

(Reporting by Michael Flaherty; Editing by Lincoln Feast and Richard Pullin)

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