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Asian Initial Sales Lead Busiest U.S. IPO Month in Three Years

Le Gaga Holdings Ltd., the Hong Kong-based greenhouse vegetable producer, raised $103 million in an initial public offering, as Asian companies led the busiest month for U.S. IPOs in almost three years.

The seller of produce to supermarkets in Hong Kong and China jumped 19 percent yesterday after pricing its American depositary receipts at $9.50 each, the top end of its forecast range, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. A total of 21 companies sold shares through IPOs in October, the most since 22 initial sales in December 2007, the data show.

Companies in Asia, the world’s fastest growing region, have recorded six of the 10 largest gains among IPOs in the U.S. this year. ChinaCache International Holdings Ltd., the Beijing-based provider of Internet content to businesses, this month had the biggest first-day rally for a New York listing in three years.

“That’s where everybody wants their money and where the hot story is right now,” said Timothy Cunningham, a money manager at Santa Fe, New Mexico-based Thornburg Investment Management, which oversees about $69 billion. “Especially for China, you have a nice long-term growth story there.”

Le Gaga intends to use the money to build greenhouses and improve other facilities, its Securities and Exchange Commission filing showed. The company will also use proceeds for research and development. Bank of America Corp. of Charlotte, North Carolina, and Zurich-based UBS AG led the offering.

‘We’re Happy’

“We’re happy,” said Ma Shing Yung, Le Gaga’s chairman and chief executive officer. The IPO was priced “at the high end of the price range, so we’re very happy about it,” he said.

Revenue at Le Gaga rose 41 percent to 281 million yuan ($41.4 million) in its fiscal year ended March 31, its filing showed. The company’s profit increased 82 percent.

Le Gaga operates 16 farms in the Chinese provinces of Fujian, Guangdong and Hebei, according to its filing. Le Gaga uses greenhouses to grow vegetables at most of its farms in Fujian and Guangdong. Its two farms in Hebei produce vegetables that grow best in a cooler climate, the filing showed.

Asian economies will grow 6.6 percent next year, according to the Washington-based International Monetary Fund. China’s economy will expand 9.6 percent. In the U.S., where at least 55 companies have postponed or withdrawn IPOs this year, economic growth will slow to 2.3 percent in 2011, the estimates show.

Search for Yield

Benchmark interest rates near zero percent in the U.S. have also increased demand for higher-yielding assets, leading more investors to IPOs, said Jason Cooper, who oversees $2.5 billion at 1st Source Investment Advisors in South Bend, Indiana.

“People are finding a hard time to continue to put money into assets that are earning very little and will continue to earn very little,” Cooper said. “People are reassessing how much risk they’re willing to take.”

That’s “probably helped the IPO market,” he said.

Companies from Asia have led the rebound. JinkoSolar Holding Co., the maker of silicon wafers in China’s Jiangxi province, has gained 174 percent. HiSoft Technology International Ltd., the Dalian, China-based company that helps businesses outsource software development, rose 166 percent.

Gurgaon, India-based MakeMyTrip Ltd., India’s largest online travel company, climbed 158 percent.

The last two Chinese IPOs this month, Beijing-based TAL Education Group, and Mecox Lane Ltd. of Shanghai, both advanced at least 50 percent on their first day of trading.

Next Week’s Offerings

Seven companies are seeking to raise a combined $1.02 billion through U.S. IPOs next week, which would be the most in four months, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

The first four will come from companies outside the U.S. Xueda Education Group and SinoTech Energy Ltd. of Beijing will offer ADRs after three of the five Chinese companies that completed U.S. IPOs this month climbed at least 40 percent.

Xueda Education, which provides tutoring services for primary and secondary school students in China, plans to raise $124 million by offering 13.43 million ADRs at $7.25 to $9.25 apiece on Nov. 1, its SEC filing showed. SinoTech Energy, which provides enhanced oil recovery services in China, is seeking $188 million the next day, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

SodaStream International Ltd., the Airport City, Israel- based seller of home soda makers, will also attempt to sell $95 million of shares. Costamare Inc., the Athens-based owner of container ships, plans to raise $226 million on Nov. 3.

Fresh Market, Primo Water

Three U.S. companies will sell shares the following day. Fresh Market Inc., the Greensboro, North Carolina-based grocer, is attempting the biggest IPO of the week with a $264 million offering, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

The grocery chain is selling 13.2 million shares at $18 to $20 each, its SEC filing showed. At the middle of the forecast range, Fresh Market would be valued at 16.4 times net assets, according to in Marina del Rey, California.

That’s almost six times higher than the ratio of 2.9 for Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods Market Inc., which Fresh Market identified as a competitor in its regulatory filing.

Both grocery chains are valued at 25 times estimated earnings, according to

Primo Water Corp., the Winston-Salem, North Carolina-based provider of bottled water and water dispensers, and Cutanea Life Sciences Inc., the Malvern, Pennsylvania-based developer of treatments for skin conditions such as rosacea and acne, are also scheduled to sell shares on Nov. 4.

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