By Prudence Ho And Yvonne Lee
HONG KONG—Japanese clothing retailer Baroque Japan Ltd., which sells the "moussy" women' brand, is seeking to raise up to US$300 million in an initial public offering in Hong Kong in the second quarter, two people familiar with the situation said Friday, as it moves to tap China's booming consumer market.
A listing in Hong Kong would also build up Baroque's profile, especially China, a person familiar with the situation said.
Tokyo-based Baroque, in which CLSA Capital Partners /zigman2/quotes/206172872/composite UBS +0.73% owns a stake, operates 175 company stores, most of which are in Japan. Outside Japan, Baroque had 24 franchise stores mainly in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan at the end of July 2010, the person said, adding that the group planned to expand its retail network in China.
Baroque joins a slew of Japanese companies that are expanding overseas to find growth amid a sluggish domestic economy and an ageing population. Among retailers, Fast Retailing Co., operator of the Uniqlo casual-clothing chain, has been expanding its stores in Asia as its domestic business generates lower revenue. The country's big-three banks—Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc., Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc. and Mizuho Financial Group Inc.—have all been ramping up their presence beyond their borders.
Baroque Japan is only the second Japanese company with plans to tap Hong Kong's booming IPO market, the busiest exchange for new share issues last year. SBI Holdings /zigman2/quotes/200067066/delayed JP:8473 +3.61% Inc. plans to raise between US$300 million and US$500 million by offering shares in its financial unit in both Hong Kong and Japan in the first quarter, at the earliest, people familiar with the situation said Wednesday.
Last year, Hong Kong led the global IPO pack with $52.9 billion in new stock offerings, while New York, at No. 2, raised $34.6 billion. Three non-Chinese companies were among the Asian city's top 10 IPOs.
They were aluminum giant UC Rusal Ltd., whose US$2.2 billion January float was the first by a Russian company in the city; skincare chain L'Occitane International SA, whose US$787 million IPO was the first by a French firm in Hong Kong; and coking-coal producer Mongolian Mining Corp., which raised US$749 million and became the first Mongolia-based company to list in Hong Kong.
UBS /zigman2/quotes/206172872/composite UBS +0.73% AG and CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets are handling Baroque's listing plan, the people said.