Hot-pot hits the jackpot

Chinese restaurant operators plan to go public with Hong Kong Stock Exchange listings as soon as next year.
Hot-pot hits the jackpot
By Lynne Nolan
Wed 06 Jun 2007 12:00 PM

UK-based private equity group 3i is tipped to win a multi-million pound windfall from its investment in a Chinese fast food chain.

Little Sheep, in which 3i invested $20 million (AED73.2 million) for a 30% stake just under a year ago, intends to list on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in the first half of 2008.

According to reports, investment banks will be appointed to oversee the listing within the next three months for the chain, which specialises in spicy hot-pot, the signature dish of Inner Mongolia.

Its parent company, Inner Mongolia Little Sheep Catering Chain, has closed at least 300 under-performing sites in the past couple of years, a move designed to help the company prepare for a stock market listing. Another Chinese hot-pot chain, Little Lamb, is also believed to be examining a listing.

The flotation, which is expected to raise as much as HK$2 billion (AED952 million) is predicted to pave the way for the opening of a Little Sheep restaurant in Britain - a move that would reverse the usual trend of Western fast-food chains exporting their brands to the fast-growing Chinese market.

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