KKR-Backed Cofco Meat Declines 17 Percent in Hong Kong Debut

Updated on
  • Pork producer raised $251 million in initial public offering
  • Chinese company priced shares at low end of marketed range

Cofco Meat Holdings Ltd., the Chinese pork producer backed by KKR & Co., dropped 17 percent in Hong Kong trading, the worst first-day performance this year among the city’s initial public offerings of at least $200 million.

The stock closed at HK$1.66, down from an IPO price of HK$2, the low end of a marketed range. The company has a market value of HK$6.5 billion ($838 million) after raising HK$1.95 billion in the IPO.

The unit of state-owned food giant Cofco Corp. is entering the Hong Kong market amid persistent concerns about food safety in China. Cofco Meat reported that the portion of shares set aside for retail investors was under-subscribed and would be reallocated to institutional investors. Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan Chase & Co. were joint sponsors of the IPO, according to exchange filings.

“It is very rare to see such a bad performance in a public offering,” said Dickie Wong, executive director of research at Kingston Financial Group Ltd. “It shows people are skeptical about the stock and its industry.”

Food Security Risk

The meat industry is a low-growth sector and is losing favor among investors as food security remains a “sensitive topic” in China, Wong said. Cofco Meat, which posted losses in 2013 and 2014, hasn’t convinced the market it can deliver sustainable growth after the listing, he said.

The company reported net income of 151 million yuan in 2015, its IPO prospectus shows. Chinese pork production will probably increase 2.5 percent annually, according to consulting firm Frost & Sullivan.

WH Group Ltd., the world’s largest pork producer, has lost about 10 percent since hitting a record high on Oct. 24 in Hong Kong.

Cofco Meat Chairman Ma Jianping told reporters Tuesday morning at a listing ceremony that stock fluctuations are normal. “The management team remains very confident and will prove it with results and performance,” he said.

Cofco isn’t the only company to stumble after a Hong Kong offering. Honma Golf Ltd., the maker of high-end golfing equipment that debuted last month after a $173 million Hong Kong IPO, has fallen 10 percent from its offer price. China Resources Pharmaceutical Group Ltd., which raised $1.8 billion, is down 0.7 percent since it started trading last week.

Chinese home-appliance maker Haier Group Corp. agreed to buy $57.4 million of Cofco Meat stock as the biggest cornerstone investor in the offering, according to terms for the deal obtained by Bloomberg last month.

Other cornerstone investors include China Life Insurance Co., which agreed to purchase $20 million of shares, the terms show. China Life Franklin Asset Management Co. invested $10 million, according to the terms. Such stock buyers agree to keep their holdings for six months in return for early, guaranteed allocation.

— With assistance by Crystal Tse

(Updates with pork production growth rate. In an earlier version of the story, the market value of Cofco Meat was misstated.)
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