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Travel & Leisure

China Tourism shares down 24% before closing flat in Hong Kong debut

Duty-free operator's $2.1bn IPO was city's biggest this year despite shaky outlook

The outlook for duty-free operators remains weak as China pursues its zero-COVID strategy.    © Reuters

HONG KONG (Reuters) -- Shares of China Tourism Group Duty Free Corp. opened down 24% at its Hong Kong debut on Thursday, but rallied to close flat after the listing raised $2.1 billion in the financial hub's largest such exercise in 2022.

China Tourism is a major duty-free network operator in mainland China, with 200 duty free stores in China, Hong Kong, Macao and Cambodia, its filings show.

The stock opened at HK$120, versus the offer price of HK$158 in the deal, but then bounced to trade down 0.48%. The company's debut was delayed until 0500 GMT after the Hong Kong Stock Exchange trading session was shortened because of a typhoon.

The stock closed at HK$158, underperforming the benchmark Hang Seng Index, which gained 3.53%. Its Shanghai listed shares gained 1.6%.

Refinitiv data showed 6.7 million China Tourism shares, worth HK$1.05 billion, were traded during the session.

Shanghai-listed China Tourism sold 102.76 million shares in the listing.

The company priced its shares at the upper end of the HK$143.50 to HK$165.50 range flagged when the deal was launched this month. That price represents a discount of about 35% to the trading value of the Shanghai listed stock.

"The pricing was expensive, given the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak in China, and deteriorating profitability of the company," said Shifara Samsudeen, a LightStream Research analyst who publishes on Smartkarma.

"The Hong Kong shares are trading around the listing price and we expect the share price to drop further in the coming days, as the outlook on the travel retail sector is bleak, given the slowdown in global economies."

Institutional investors subscribed for 4.7 times the number of shares on offer in the international tranche of the deal, the firm's filings showed.

The deal's bookbuild was carried out as Hainan, the company's biggest mainland market, was locked down due to a COVID-19 outbreak.

China Tourism's listing takes to $6.7 billion the amount raised in Hong Kong in initial public offerings and secondary listings so far in 2022, down 80.7% on the same last year, Refinitiv data shows.

It is the year's slowest start for the city's equity capital markets since 2013, the data showed.

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