Robinsons plans 'one of largest-ever' IPOs in the Philippines

MANILA (AFP) - A retailer is set to raise US$622 million (S$770 million) in one of the largest-ever initial public offerings (IPOs) in the Philippines, its main local underwriter said on Friday, as more companies sell shares to capitalise on the nation's surging economy.

The leading Robinsons Retail Holdings Inc. plans to use the money to boost its store chain from 940 to 1,400, said Dennis Du, executive director of Maybank ATR Kim Eng Capital, the IPO's domestic underwriter.

"This will be one of the biggest IPOs ever in the Philippines," Mr Du told AFP.

Robinsons, owned by Chinese-Filipino tycoon John Gokongwei, told the Philippine Stock Exchange this week it will sell at least 461.9 million common shares to the public on Oct 29 at 58 pesos a share, or 26.79 billion pesos (S$769 million) in total.

The country's main business groups have taken to selling shares to raise capital to take advantage of robust economic growth that saw the Philippines' gross domestic product rise by 6.8 percent last year and 7.6 per cent in the first half of 2013.

The Philippine Stock Exchange index is up 13.3 per cent this year, after a 33 per cent surge last year.

The country's biggest IPO launched in April when the LT Group Inc. of Lucio Tan, the country's second-wealthiest man, raised 37.72 billion pesos.

Seventy per cent of the Robinsons shares are to be sold to investors abroad and the balance will be sold in the Philippines on Tuesday, according to its prospectus.

Robinsons will list at the Philippine Stock Exchange on Nov 11, it added.

The retail chain includes department stores, groceries, hardware shops, drugstores, the local franchise to giant US retailer Toys R Us.

As a retailing business in the Philippines Robinsons is second only to the SM group of tycoon Henry Sy, the country's richest man. lists Gokongwei as the Philippines' fifth-richest man with a net worth of US$3.4 billion as of July 2013.

The 87-year-old Chinese immigrant is the patriarch of a business empire that also includes airline Cebu Pacific, property, food manufacturing, banking and petrochemicals.

Cebu Pacific's IPO raised 23.3 billion pesos in 2010.