Fast Retailing Said to Plan Hong Kong Exchange Listing

Fast Retailing Co., Asia’s largest clothing retailer, plans to list in Hong Kong early next year, said three people with knowledge of the matter.

Fast Retailing, the Yamaguchi, Japan-based company that operates Uniqlo brand stores, plans to submit a filing with the city’s bourse as early as next month for issuing Hong Kong depositary receipts, one of the people said, asking not to be identified because the process is private. The company won’t raise any money as part of the listing, the people said.

Led by billionaire Tadashi Yanai, Fast Retailing is seeking to widen its investor base as it expands abroad, the people said. The company plans to add about 100 stores a year over the next decade in China to increase outlets in Asia’s largest economy to 3,000.

As of February, Fast Retailing had 182 Uniqlo stores in mainland China and 16 in Hong Kong, according to its website. The Japanese company has said it won’t slow its China expansion, even after violent demonstrations over a territorial dispute between the two nations forced it to close as many as 60 outlets temporarily in September last year.

Fast Retailing got 77 percent of its sales from Japan in the 12 months through August 2012, down from 82 percent in the year-earlier period, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Besides Tokyo, the company is traded in Germany and the U.S. Fast Retailing’s American depositary receipts have advanced 27 percent this year, trailing the 45 percent rally in the Tokyo-traded stock that took its market value to 3.4 trillion yen ($35 billion)

A Fast Retailing spokesman declined to comment on the listing plan. The company may start trading in Hong Kong by February, one of the people said.

Fast Retailing would become the third Japanese company to list in Hong Kong, following SBI Holdings Inc and Dynam Japan Holdings Co., data compiled by Bloomberg show.

SBI Holdings is also listed in Tokyo, and its Hong Kong shares have advanced 39 percent this year, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Dynam Japan raised $194 million in an August 2012 initial public offering, and the pachinko hall operator has advanced about 20 percent from its offer price.

Fast Retailing Chairman Yanai is Japan’s richest man with a net worth of $16.1 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, up $3.5 billion this year. Fast Retailing shares were the biggest gainer in the Nikkei 225 in the six-year period ending in 2012, posting a total return of 191 percent.

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