Japan’s Fast Retailing surges in Hong Kong trading debut

HONG KONG – Fast Retailing Co Ltd jumped 4 percent in its Hong Kong trading debut on Wednesday as the operator of Japan’s Uniqlo clothing outlets listed in the island city in an effort to boost its profile in mainland China and beyond.

At one point, the shares shot up as much 31 percent in thin trade before quickly back falling back. In Tokyo, the stock (9983.T) was trading 2.8 percent higher.

The strong debut underscores strong investor appetite for high profile brands that has atttracted several other global names such as Coach and casino operator Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd to Hong Kong without actually raising capital.

Fast Retailing’s Hong Kong listing is part of a plan to become the world’s top apparel retailer by 2020, and which may include offering shares at other exchanges, Chief Financial Officer Takeshi Okazaki said last month.

Fast Retailing’s Hong Kong depositary receipts were trading at HK$28.45 in morning trade compared with a reference price of HK$27.36, which is based on the close of the company’s Tokyo listed shares on Tuesday.

Fast Retailing shares closed on Tuesday at 35,890 yen, or an equivalent of HK$27.36 per HDR, according to a securities filing. Each HDR representing one hundredth of the Japanese company’s Tokyo-traded stock.

By comparison, Hong Kong’s benchmark Hang Seng Index .HSI was up 0.4 percent higher and fashion peer Prada up 1.2 percent.

Fast Retailing expects China, as well as the rest of Asia, to drive its rapid expansion and account for three-quarters of its global outlets by that time.

It wants to more than triple the number of stores in Greater China to 1,000 by 2020, when it hopes to be the world’s biggest apparel retailer surpassing Zara’s Inditex, Hennes & Mauritz and Gap.

Sources have said that Fast Retailing is also exploring a bid for U.S. apparel chain J.Crew Group Inc.

The so-called listings by introduction have had limited success compared with typical initial public offerings because there are no new shares to trade, which reduces their liquidity.

The deal’s sole sponsor was Morgan Stanley, which earned about 150 million yen ($1.48 million) in fees, according to Fast Retailing’s listing prospectus.


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