Belle owners mull HK IPO for sportswear division

By BLOOMBERG

HONG KONG • The private equity owners of Belle International Holdings Ltd, the biggest women’s shoe retailer in China, are considering a spin off of its sportswear distribution business, people with knowledge of the matter said.

Hillhouse Capital and CDH Investments, which took Belle private in a US$6.8 billion (RM29.61 billion) deal completed in July, are weighing a Hong Kong initial public offering (IPO) of the unit as soon as next year, the people said. A listing could raise about US$1 billion, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private.

The business sells brands including Adidas, Nike and Puma in China, according to Belle’s website. Deliberations on a possible listing of the unit are at an early stage, and Belle’s owners including management may decide against a spinoff, the people said.

Belle operates more than 20,000 retail outlets, mostly in mainland China. The Shenzhen- based company makes shoes under its own labels — including Belle, Staccato and Millie’s — and distributes them alongside foreign brands. Its separate sportswear and apparel business sells sneakers and clothing under others’ brands.

Representatives for Hillhouse and CDH declined to comment. A spokeswoman for Belle said she couldn’t immediately comment.

Belle was taken private last year as it struggled to expand its market share as Chinese shoppers increasingly go online.