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Chinese pork firm $5.3 bn IPO set to be the biggest in a year

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Chinese pork producer WH Group hopes to raise more than $5 billion in what would be the world's biggest initial public offering for a year as it plans to list in Hong Kong, giving a boost to the city's IPO market.

The company -- which last year bought US giant Smithfield Foods in a landmark multi-billion-dollar deal -- will sell 3.66 billion shares at an indicative price range of HK$8.00-HK$11.25 each.

If the Henan-based firm, formerly known as Shuanghui International Holdings, sells its shares at the top end of the range, it would raise $5.3 billion. That would make it the largest IPO globally since Brazil's BB Seguridade Participacoes SA raised $5.7 billion in April last year.

It would also be Hong Kong's biggest since US insurer AIA raised $20.5 billion in 2010. WH Group's shares are expected to list on April 30, according to Dow Jones Newswires.

WH Group is the world's largest pork company and is involved in the production, slaughter and distribution of the meat, a key ingredient in Chinese cuisine. It is also a shareholder of Spanish packaged meat firm Campofrio Food, according to its website.

If demand is strong the firm -- whose shareholders include Goldman Sachs and Singapore's state investment firm Temasek -- also has an option to sell a further 20 percent more shares, which could boost the sale to $6.37 billion.

"It's one of the largest [deals] in the world, it deserves some attention to it," Tanrich Securities vice president Jackson Wong told AFP, adding that there was high demand when two other smaller pork producers listed in the city.

In May WH Group, under the Shuanghui name, agreed to buy Smithfield Foods in a deal valuing Smithfield at $7.1 billion, making it the largest ever Chinese acquisition of a US company.

The IPO will be welcomed by Hong Kong's exchange after Internet giant Alibaba opted in March to list in New York following a disagreement over the type of stock it could issue.

Hong Kong was the world's top IPO venue from 2009 to 2011 but fell away over the next few years. However, it has seen has seen a pick-up this year, especially for less orthodox companies.

Magnum Entertainment, the city's first nightclub to list on the bourse, saw its HK$126 million IPO oversubscribed 3,500 times. Its share price soared 90 percent on the first day.

Fu Shou Yuan, the largest mainland Chinese funeral services provider, saw its December $215 million IPO oversubscribed by nearly 700 percent.

In January, a utility trust owned by Asia's richest man Li Ka-shing, raised $3.11 billion but fell 2.02 percent on its debut.

-- Dow Jones Newswires contributed to this report --

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