France's L'Occitane Plans Hong Kong IPO

French cosmetics retailer L'Occitane en Provence has chosen Hong Kong for an initial public offering to raise about $300 million later this year, two sources with direct knowledge of the deal.

The company chose Hong Kong instead of Paris for its listing because Asia is its fastest-growing market, one of the sources said. It is looking to list towards the end of the year.

L'Occitane, which sells body care products and fragrances in more than 70 countries including China, Japan and South Korea as well as France, the UK, and the United States, has yet to file the listing application to Hong Kong Stock Exchange, one of the sources said.

Bourse operator Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing, which faces a slowing pipeline of IPOs from mainland China as more companies choose to list onshore on the Shanghai and Shenzhen markets, is looking to attract listings from overseas markets such as Israel and Russia.

UBS and CLSA are underwriting L'Occitane's deal.

Russia's United Company RUSAL, the world's top primary aluminum producer, is considering moving a planned IPO from London to Hong Kong.

Russian molybdenum miner SMR, which owns the mineral assets of billionaire Oleg Deripaska, also plans to raise about $200 million in a Hong Kong IPO in the latter part of 2008, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters earlier.

London-listed gold miner Leyshon Resources said last month it plans a secondary listing on the Hong Kong stock exchange to accelerate production at its mine in the northeastern Chinese province of Heilongjiang.

Hong Kong faces competition for listings from bigger financial centres such as London and New York, as well as from smaller markets such as Dubai and Singapore, which are also aggressively courting listings.