Jeweller Graff postpones $1 billion Hong Kong IPO

HONG KONG - High-end London-based jeweller Graff Diamonds said Thursday it has decided to delay its $1.0 billion initial public offering in Hong Kong next month due to "adverse market conditions".

The Graff Diamonds boutique in Taipei / Photo: Graff Diamonds

The share sale, which would have been one of the biggest IPOs this year, is the latest deal to be pulled in the Asian financial hub in recent weeks amid concerns over the eurozone crisis which has hurt market sentiment.

"Graff Diamonds Corporation confirms that due to adverse market conditions it has decided to postpone its planned IPO and listing on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange," the jeweller said in a statement.

"The company enjoyed high quality engagement on its business and strategy from a very broad range of prospective investors, however consistent declining stock markets proved to be a significant barrier to executing the transaction at this time," it added.

The firm was originally due to price the deal on Friday ahead of its listing on the Hong Kong stock exchange -- the world's largest IPO market -- on June 7.

A listing in Hong Kong would have allowed Graff Diamonds to join other luxury brands using Hong Kong as a gateway to the burgeoning Chinese market -- such as Prada of Italy, US handbag maker Coach and US luggage maker Samsonite.

The slew of luxury firms seeking to list in Hong Kong are a sign of Asia's growing appetite for designer goods, especially among cashed-up Chinese.

But in recent weeks, car dealer China Yongda Automobiles Services Holdings has shelved its Hong Kong IPO worth up to $433 million while mining firm China Nonferrous Mining Corp has decided to delay its $313 million deal.

Graff Diamonds has said it planned to open five more directly operated stores selling jewellery and watches in Asia this year, in addition to the 18 it already operates around the world.

Graff Diamonds' presence in Asia includes boutiques in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, Tokyo and Taipei. It is planning to open three flagship stores in the Chinese city of Hangzhou, Macau and Dubai this year, according to its website.

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