LONDON, Feb 2 (Reuters) - Aquatic Foods Group Plc, a Chinese seafood supplier and processor, said on Monday it intends to list on the London Stock Exchange’s small-cap market AIM.
China-based Aquatic Foods said in a statement it expects AIM trading to start on Feb. 3, and gave a likely market capitalisation of around 79 million pounds ($119 million).
The company runs two brands of seafood that it sells to local and international markets separately, and said it would use the funds from the listing to bolster its processing capabilities and expand product distributor networks in China.
Chinese consumers are increasingly turning to processed and ready-to-eat products as they grow wealthier, while Chinese exports to the international seafood market grew at a rate of 8.8 percent per year between 2009 and 2013, the company said.
“We believe that the company is at an exciting stage of development and we hope to capitalise on the growing health conscious middle-classes in the PRC (People’s Republic of China),” said Chief Executive Officer Li Xianzhi.
“We feel that by joining AIM, the Group will be able to benefit from new opportunities and further increased consumer confidence in our products,” he said.
The Chinese government has been working hard to improve domestic food safety following scandals that have rocked consumer confidence in the country’s produce. In September Vice Premier Wang Yang pledged further reforms to the country’s food and drug safety administration in addition to “the harshest penalties” for violations, according to news agency Xinhua.
Investor appetite for Chinese companies trading on European exchanges has faltered recently following a series of corporate problems at listed firms. In September, the CEO of Frankfurt-listed Chinese shoemaker Ultrasonic vanished along with about $60 million only to re-surface several days later claiming to have lost his phone on holiday.
Aquatic Foods is headquartered in the Chinese port of Yantai, Shandong Province, and will join 54 other Chinese companies on AIM and seven on London’s main market. SP Angel Corporate Finance LLP is acting as the company’s nominated adviser and broker.
$1 = 0.6656 pounds Reporting By Andrew Winterbottom, editing by David Evans