Central Retail Corp plans to raise up to $2.7 billion in Thailand's biggest IPO

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand’s largest retailer, Central Retail Corporation, plans to raise up to 81.1 billion baht ($2.7 billion) in an initial public offer (IPO), the company said in a filing on Thursday, in what would be the country’s largest IPO.

Central Retail, part of the billionaire Chirativat family’s Central Group, set an IPO price range at between 40 and 48 baht per share and will sell up to 22.1% of the company’s stock or 1.69 billion shares with an overallotment option of 169 million shares.

Subscription for investors will begin on Feb. 6.

Central Retail’s plans to go public, first announced in July, would overtake the country’s largest listing, BTS Rail Mass Transit Growth Fund, which raised 62 billion baht in 2013.

Funds raised will be used to expand its domestic and international businesses and to pay off debt, the company said.

There has been renewed investor interest in the Thai capital’s markets, led by first-time share sales from billionaire families and conglomerate spin-offs.

Earlier this year, the hospitality firm of billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, Asset World Corp Pcl AWC.BK, raised 48 billion baht.

The country's largest industrial conglomerate, Siam Cement Group Pcl SCC.BK, has announced plans to list its packaging unit next year and the state energy firm PTT Pcl PTT.BK is in the process of filing for an IPO for its retail arm, PTT Oil and Retail.

As part of its listing plans, the parent company, Central Group, will delist its retail subsidiary, Robinson Pcl ROBINS.BK, where it holds a majority stake, and offer a share swap to Robinson's existing shareholders with no cash alternatives.

The share swap with Robinson will start on Jan. 27.

Central Retail, which has 2,000 stores in Thailand, booked 106 billion baht ($3.46 billion) in revenue in the 6 months ending in June. It will have a dividend policy of at least 40% of net profit.

Some 43% of revenue came from its food business, 34% from fashion and the remainder from hardware.

Phatra Securities and Bualuang Securities Public have been hired as financial advisers.

Reporting by Chayut Setboonsarng; editing by Jason Neely