China pork giant WH Group raises $2.1 bln in HK IPO-source

HONG KONG, July 30 Wed Jul 30, 2014 4:38am EDT

HONG KONG, July 30 (Reuters) - WH Group Ltd, the world's biggest pork producer, has raised the $2.1 billion it sought in a Hong Kong initial public offering, a person with direct knowledge of the deal said on Wednesday.

The IPO, which closed to the public on Tuesday, was the Chinese company's second attempt this year to raise funds after investors shunned an earlier offer that aimed to raise up to $5.3 billion due to high valuations.

WH Group, which counts private equity firm CDH Investments, Goldman Sachs and Singapore state investor Temasek Holdings among its shareholders, offered 2.57 billion new shares at a fixed price of HK$6.20 each.

The deal could grow by 385.1 million shares and total as much as $2.36 billion if underwriters exercise an option to meet additional demand for the IPO, according to the prospectus.

WH Group did not respond to Reuters emails seeking comment. The source declined to be named as the deal remained confidential.

WH Group, which bought U.S. firm Smithfield Foods for $4.9 billion in 2013, initially planned to raise up to $5.3 billion to pay down debt taken on for the acquisition.

But it was forced to pull the IPO in late April. In addition to high valuations sought, investors were also were turned off by mismanaged marketing after a record 29 banks were hired for the offering and sky-high executive compensation that raised corporate governance concerns.

For its second attempt, just two banks - BOC International and Morgan Stanley - were hired as joint sponsors and joint global coordinators of the IPO. The banks stand to earn a combined $41 million, equivalent to a 1.5 percent underwriting commission and an incentive fee of up to 0.5 percent, according to the IPO prospectus. (Reporting by Elzio Barreto; Editing by Denny Thomas and Miral Fahmy)

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