July 10, 2014 / 5:41 AM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 2-Pork producer WH Group seeking up to $3bln in revised Hong Kong IPO-IFR

* Q1 net profit tripled to $407 mln, margins improve

* Names BOC International and Morgan Stanley as IPO sponsors

* Offer could come in July or early August -IFR (Recasts with IPO size, offer details, adds context)

By Daniel Stanton and Denny Thomas

HONG KONG, July 10 (Reuters) - Chinese pork producer WH Group Ltd is seeking to raise up to $3 billion as early as this month in a revived Hong Kong initial public offering (IPO) which saw the deal size cut by nearly two-thirds, Thomson Reuters publication IFR reported on Thursday.

The offer would be the second attempt this year by the world’s biggest pork company to go public, as it seeks funds to repay part of the debt it took to foot last year’s $7.1 billion purchase of U.S. pork producer Smithfield International.

In April, WH Group pulled an Hong Kong IPO it had hoped would raise up to $5.3 billion after investors baulked at the high valuation. The 29 banks - a record number - hired to manage the offer also sent confusing signals to institutional investors, while the negative publicity surrounding sky-high executive compensation raised corporate governance issues.

The new IPO would only comprise primary shares, meaning existing shareholders including CDH Investments, New Horizon, Goldman Sachs and Temasek Holdings would not sell their stake in the offering, IFR reported, citing sources familiar with matter.

After the IPO, public shareholders would own about 20 percent. WH Group plans to complete the offer quickly, and with little or no marketing, IFR added.

A WH Group spokesman declined to comment when asked about the deal.

WH Group, whose products include Smithfield ham and Farmland bacon in the United States, has named BOC International and Morgan Stanley as the two IPO sponsors, down from an initial list of seven.

The company updated its IPO prospectus late on Wednesday, highlighting a stronger financial performance.

Its first quarter 2014 profit after tax more than tripled to $407 million from $125 million in the same year-ago period while turnover also more than tripled to $5.05 billion.

The company earned a 7 percent net profit margin compared with negative 2.3 percent margin for the year ended Dec. 31.

The company had previously named five other sponsors, including Citic Securities International, DBS Group, Goldman Sachs, Standard Chartered and UBS. (Reporting by Denny Thomas and Daniel Stanton; Editing by Miral Fahmy)

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