Courts Asia Keeps IPO Option Open

Electronics and furniture retailer Courts Asia, which operates in Singapore and Malaysia, on Tuesday announced plans to set up new stores but said it was keeping its options open about an initial public offering, writes Reuters. Reuters reported last month that an investor group led by Baring Private Equity Asia was looking to sell Courts for over S$500 million ($384.88 million) and had hired HSBC and BNP Paribas to manage the sale.

(Reuters) – Electronics and furniture retailer Courts Asia, which operates in Singapore and Malaysia, on Tuesday announced plans to set up new stores but said it was keeping its options open about an initial public offering.

“We are keeping open to a potential listing and keeping open to potential strategic interests as well,” Courts CEO Terry O’Connor told reporters.

“At the moment I prefer to keep an IPO view,” he added, although he acknowledged financial markets were choppy which made launching an IPO difficult.

Reuters reported last month that an investor group led by Baring Private Equity Asia was looking to sell Courts for over S$500 million ($384.88 million) and had hired HSBC and BNP Paribas to manage the sale.

The Barings-led group tried to list Courts last year but valuation concerns scuppered the listing. In 2009, the group also tried to sell the business for $300 million but could not find willing buyers.

Courts on Tuesday announced a S$70 million expansion plan that included growing its Malaysian stores to 95 from 57 by 2015. In Singapore, the firm hopes to grow to 18 stores by 2015 from the current 10.

The retailer is also keen to expand into a third Southeast Asian market, possibly Indonesia, by acquisition or through a merger, O’Connor said. ($1 = 1.2991 Singapore dollars) (Reporting By Cerelia Lim; Editing by Kevin Lim)