Minzhong IPO by 'year-end'

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Fujian Minzhong Organic Food, a leading vegetable and food processor in China, plans to list on the Singapore Stock Exchange by end-2009 or early next year, company sources told China Daily.

Minzhong, whose majority shares are held by Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC) and US private equity firm Olympus Capital, plans to raise between $100 million and $150 million from the initial public offering (IPO), the sources said.

"We planned for the IPO a few years ago, and now all the procedures are underway," the sources told China Daily.

"The listing will happen probably end-2009, or early next year," the sources said.

The IPO money will be used to invest in additional manufacturing bases, research and development, and to expand the domestic sales network, the sources said.

The Fujian-based vegetable and food processor plans to raise $100m to $150m from a Singapore listing. Yan Huajie

The IPO is expected to be Singapore's largest ever in volume terms after the $260-million raised by Indiabulls Properties Investment Trust, a property trust owned by India's fourth largest realty company, in June 2008.

GIC and Olympus Capital, which agreed to purchase stakes in Minzhong in April 2006, had recently decided to exit the Chinese food processor, which had been rapidly expanding during the past few years.

Reuters had earlier reported that JP Morgan was hired to advise on the sale, and that GIC and Olympus Capital had helped Minzhong to make the decision.

Analysts said Minzhong chose to list in Singapore because GIC is a Singaporean government entity.

Singapore has been launching measures to attract overseas IPOs to invigorate the local markets amid the ongoing economic slowdown.

Minzhong's IPO plan is quite ambitious when compared to the $15-20 million companies typically raise on the Singaporean bourse.

Minzhong has been processing vegetables and making fruit and vegetable juices for the last 30 years. It produces 40,000 tons of air-dried and canned vegetables annually. Minzhong does sales worth 300 million yuan.

Company insiders interviewed by other Chinese newspapers said Minzhong's profit before tax was $60 million and that the company was valued at $700 million.

Minzhong's products were mainly exported to the United States, Europe and South East Asia, but the financial crisis made the company to focus more on the domestic market, said an employee in the purchasing department at Minzhong.

"The IPO funds will be used to develop the national sales network and to build more manufacturing bases," he said.

Earlier this month, Minzhong invested $100 million to set up an industrial park for foodstuff manufacturing and processing.

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