Jun 282013

MANILA, Philippines – The Gokongwei family’s Robinsons Retail Group is postponing its $800-million initial public offering (IPO), making it the second conglomerate to shelve plans of going public amid volatile market conditions.

The country’s second largest retailer is waiting for the right timing for its IPO, intended to accelerate its expansion program, its top executive said.

“I think you have to wait for the right timing,” said Lance Y. Gokongwei, president and chief operating officer of JG Summit Holdings Inc.

“It’s more important that we have a successful IPO, so we’ll wait for the right time.”

Robinsons Retail Group is a unit of property giant Robinsons Land Corp., whose parent firm is the Gokongweis’ investment holding firm JG Summit.

After hitting its 31st all-time high this year at 7,392.20 on May 15, the benchmark Philippine Stock Exchange index has since slipped, ending at 6,465.28 yesterday.

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On June 13, the main index plunged 6.75 percent or 442.57 points to finish at 6,114.08, marking its deepest single-day drop since sinking by a record 12.27 percent on Oct. 27, 2008 at the height of the Lehman Brothers’ bankruptcy that resulted in the global financial crisis.

Gokongwei said Robinsons Retail Group has filed an IPO registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission for the share sale, which was previously targeted late this year.

Robinsons Retail Group is planning to sell around 35 percent of the company’s stocks to the public, Gokongwei said.

The retail group claims to be the country’s second largest retailer, next to SM Retail Inc. of the Philippines’ richest man Henry Sy. Robinsons Retail Group owns and operates 35 department stores and 73 supermarkets nationwide.

“Right now, access to capital is important to continue to gain market share in this industry and to participate in its consolidation,” Gokongwei said.

Proceeds from the IPO will be used for store expansion and possible acquisition of new chains or additional stores or brands, he added.

Robinsons Retail Group will focus on multi-format retailing that includes department stores, supermarkets, hardware and convenience stores, Gokongwei said.

Early this week, Travellers International Hotel Group Inc. pushed back its planned P36.8-billion IPO to September given the market’s volatility. Travellers Group, a joint venture between Alliance Global Group Inc. of property tycoon Andrew Tan and Malaysia’s Genting Bhd, is the company behind Resorts World Manila and Resorts World Bayshore along Manila Bay.

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