HONG KONG, March 18 (Reuters) - Chinese liquid detergent maker Blue Moon, backed by large private equity firm Hillhouse Capital Group, has picked banks to lead its Hong Kong initial public offering of up to $1 billion this year, said two people with direct knowledge of the matter.
The Guangzhou-based firm which recently invited pitches from investment banks has selected China International Capital Corporation (CICC) and Citigroup to lead its proposed float, said the people.
Bank of America is also expected to work on the deal which will likely take place in the second half of the year, said two other people.
Blue Moon could be the latest firm planning a major Hong Kong listing since the coronavirus outbreak began. Tencent-backed WeDoctor this month invited investment banks to a “beauty parade” to pick leading banks for its planned IPO of up to $1 billion, Reuters has reported.
Hong Kong’s equity capital markets have been battered by a coronavirus-linked slowdown. The city only saw $1.46 billion raised from IPOs as of March 16, down 32% over the same period last year, according to Refinitiv data.
Some investment bankers in the city however believe the markets are set to regain some confidence in the second quarter of 2020.
Blue Moon and Hillhouse didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. The three banks declined to comment.
Founded in 1992, Blue Moon has over the years developed from a household detergent maker to a well-known brand of laundry detergent in China. It had the biggest market share of the country’s laundry detergent business from 2009 to 2018, it showed on its website.
Hillhouse founder Zhang Lei, who has viewed Blue Moon as an early Chinese equivalent of Procter & Gamble, invested in the firm in 2010, according to Hillhouse’s website. (Reporting by Julie Zhu and Scott Murdoch Editing by Robert Birsel)