Jardines to re-list in Hong Kong

The venerable Hong is planning to maintain a toe-hold in its home market by floating its IT arm Jardine OneSolution (JOS).

Since the de-listing and privatisation of Jardine International Motor Holdings (JIMH) on October 4 this year, the Hong Kong Stock Exchange has been missing a Jardine group company for the first time since it first went public back in 1961.

In a symbolic indication of how much the balance of power has shifted in the Territory since then, the group is now proposing an IPO float of $70 million to $100 million for a company that made profits of less than $12 million during the 1999 financial year. By comparison, when the group stood at the height of its powers in the early 1970's, Jardine Matheson owned or controlled 42% of the Hang Seng Index. Even in 1994, when it made the fateful decision to escape Hong Kong's takeover code and move its main listing to Singapore, it still accounted for about 10% of the Hang Seng Index.

Lead manager Chase Fleming (now minus the Jardines tag) will lead the deal, which is expected to begin roadshows over the next couple of weeks. Over the longer-term, commentators say that it is possible other Jardine assets will be injected into the group.

As it stands, JOS is said to be one of the most dynamic entities within the group and unusually, has a Chinese ceo, Steve Lo, also said to be highly regarded. Formerly known as Jardine Office Supplies, the company was re-branded earlier this summer and has adopted a new strategic direction through which it aims to become Asia's leading end-to-end IT and e-business enabling solutions provider. Six core divisions embrace: systems integration; technical services; application solutions; consulting and outsourcing; commerce service provider and; distribution and logistics.

The company is being spun-off from under the Jardine Pacific umbrella, which also contains: Jardine Davies, the group's company in the Philippines; its wine and spirits division; 300 restaurant operations and; IKEA franchise. In 1999, Jardine Pacific recorded revenues of $925.5 million and operating profit of $12.2 million.

In the first six months of this year, the company recorded revenue of $523.4 million, up from $428.4 million over the same period of the previous year and net profit of $11.6 million, up from $5.3 million last year.