Philippine Billionaire Said to Plan Robinsons Retail IPO

Philippine billionaire John Gokongwei is planning an initial public offering of Robinsons Retail Group, the operator of supermarkets and department stores, said three people with knowledge of the matter.

The sale, which may raise about $800 million, could take place in Manila by the end of this year, one of the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is private. The company is already working with investment banks on the planned offering, the people said.

The offering would be among the largest in the Philippines, where stocks this month reached record levels after the country won its first investment-grade credit ratings from Fitch Ratings Ltd. and Standard & Poor’s, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Equity sales have already hit $2.5 billion this year, compared with 2012’s record $3.6 billion, the data show.

“Philippines has been hot, primarily driven by political stability,” said Christopher Wong, a Singapore-based fund manager at Aberdeen Asset Management, which oversees more than $90 billion of regional equities. “There’s a high concentration of family-owned conglomerates, and the tycoons are using this opportunity to tap the markets. There seems to be more openness in engaging with the investment community as the new generation comes to the fore.”

Best Performer

Robinsons Retail Group, which also owns the Toys R Us Inc. franchise in the Philippines, is the second-largest multi-format retailer in the country, according to its website. It is controlled by the Gokongwei family which also owns JG Summit Holdings Inc.

JG Summit Senior Vice President Bach Johann Sebastian declined to comment on the IPO plan yesterday. JG Summit rose as much as 3 percent today, and was the best performing member of the Philippine Stock Exchange Index at 10:07 a.m. in Manila.

The shares are up 22 percent this year, compared with a 25 percent gain for the benchmark index.

JG Summit also controls Cebu Air Inc., which raised $589 million in October 2010, in the nation’s largest ever IPO, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Travellers International Hotel Group Inc., a venture of Genting Hong Kong Ltd. and Alliance Global Group Inc., is seeking as much as 34.8 billion pesos ($845 million) in an IPO this year.

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