Singapore competing for listing of Watsons parent company in world's largest retail IPO

(Reuters) - Hutchison Whampoa, controlled by Asia's richest man, Li Ka-shing, has chosen three banks to manage the float of its health and beauty retail arm A.S. Watson & Co, that could involve a secondary listing in London, Sky News reported, citing sources.

The Hong Kong tycoon's conglomerate picked Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs and HSBC to manage the share sale in 2014, Sky News said on its website.

The broadcaster, citing insiders, added that the listing would likely be jointly in Hong Kong and London, but that no decision had been made and Singapore was also competing for a slice of what could be the world's biggest retail sector IPO.

Reuters was not immediately able to confirm the report.

Whampoa, HSBC's headquarters in the United Kingdom and HSBC Hong Kong could not be reached after business hours, nor could Bank of America or Goldman Sachs in Hong Kong.

Bankers and analysts told Reuters in October that A.S. Watson's IPO could be valued at about US$23 billion. If 25 per cent of A.S. Watson is floated - a standard Hong Kong IPO percentage - the IPO could raise close to US$6 billion.

A.S. Watson owns more than 11,000 retail stores around the world, including the Watsons, Superdrug and Kruidvat personal care stores, Fortress electronic appliance outlets, and chains selling food and wine and luxury and cosmetic products.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.