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United Asia Finance May Seek Hong Kong IPO If Valuations Improve

United Asia Finance CEO Akihiro Nagahara
Akihiro Nagahara, chief executive officer of United Asia Finance Ltd., reacts during an interview in Hong Kong on Aug. 9, 2013. Photographer: Jerome Favre/Bloomberg

United Asia Finance Ltd., a consumer-finance arm of Sun Hung Kai & Co. that’s expanding in China, may sell shares in Hong Kong to fund its growth in the world’s second-largest economy.

United Asia expanded lending on the mainland last year by more than 60 percent to more than 2 billion yuan ($327 million), compared with 10 percent growth in its Hong Kong loan book, which totaled HK$8.3 billion ($1.1 billion), Chief Executive Officer Akihiro Nagahara said in an interview on Aug. 9. The company has invested more than 4 billion yuan in its China operations.

“Listing will improve our transparency and help us get capital for expansion,” Nagahara said. “If the market improves, with better price-to-valuation, I’d like UA Finance to list on Hong Kong’s main board.” The company has no listing plans for now, he said.

China is boosting lending to smaller entrepreneurs to bolster economic growth, creating opportunities for companies like UA Finance, which ran 94 mainland China outlets as of the end of June. The 22-year-old company seeks to add 30 to 40 outlets each year to offer unsecured lending to small and medium-sized companies and individuals, Nagahara said.

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