Chinese Hot Pot Chain Seeks Approval for $1 Billion IPO

(Bloomberg) -- Haidilao International Holding Ltd., China’s biggest hot pot restaurant chain, plans to seek approval next week for a Hong Kong initial public offering that could raise as much as $1 billion, people with knowledge of the matter said.

The Beijing-based company is preparing to meet the Hong Kong stock exchange’s listing committee on Aug. 23, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private. CMB International Capital Ltd. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. are joint sponsors of the offering, according to a May preliminary prospectus, which didn’t specify the fundraising target.

A $1 billion deal would be the largest consumer IPO this year in Hong Kong, which has been focused on transforming itself into a hub for fundraising by new-economy companies, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Many of the year’s hotly-anticipated technology and biotech listings are trading below their offer prices, with Xiaomi Corp. falling about 4 percent since it began trading last month.

A Hong Kong-based external representative for Haidilao declined to comment.

Haidilao is known for its spicy broths and attentive customer service, which includes giving customers free manicures, shoulder massages and dance performances. Billionaire founder Zhang Yong, a former factory worker, said in an interview last year he started the restaurant chain after a less than satisfying dining experience in southwestern China’s Sichuan province.

The company now serves more than 100 million guests a year, according to its preliminary prospectus. It ranks as China’s largest hotpot restaurant chain by revenue, with a 2.2 percent market share in 2017, according to a Frost & Sullivan report cited in the filing.

Proceeds from the offering could help fuel the company’s expansion plan, which includes opening as many as 220 new restaurants this year, the prospectus shows.

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