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China's Lifan Group eyes Hong Kong listing this year

China's privately-owned conglomerate Lifan Group hopes to list on the Hong Kong bourse this year and raise money to enable it to deal with production bottlenecks and also carry out overseas acquisitions.

The country's largest private motorcycle maker favors the Hong Kong bourse because of the shorter time needed to get listing approval compared with the mainland, according to company chairman Yin Mingshan.

One of the 500 most valuable brands in China, the Chongqing-based group is one of the country's most successful private firms whose tentacles extend into engine and auto manufacturing, real estate, finance and the football industry.

Sales topped 10 billion yuan in 2006, and the company earned 312 million U.S. dollars from exports after deciding to focus on low-cost vehicles.

Lifan's earlier attempts to list foundered partly on a lack of interest from investors in the mainland auto industry. Partnering deals with foreign institutional investors including Barkley Capital also failed to get off the ground.

Things got worse when the profit margin on motorcycles was squeezed hard in 2005.

The resurgence of the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong stock markets has given a strong impetus to Lifan's listing drive. Yin said the funds raised can be used for carefully-considered overseas M&A operations.

Sedans produced by Lifan's Sino-Vietnam joint venture are serving as cabs in the capital city Hanoi.

Source: Xinhua
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