HK’s Li & Fung to sell furniture, beauty, sweaters businesses for $1.1 bln: Reuters

Hong Kong’s Li & Fung Ltd said it would divest its furniture, beauty and sweaters businesses for $1.1 billion to a consortium backed by private equity firm Hony Capital, a deal that is expected to trigger net loss in 2017.

The exporter, which supplies clothing and other products to retailers worldwide, said in a statement the group is expected to realise a loss of around $610 million attributable to discontinued operations including a write-down of goodwill.

Li & Fung said it is at an attractive valuation as the businesses are still under margin pressure with declining profitability due to significant changes in market conditions.

“The strategic divestment of the product verticals allows Li & Fung to focus on its core competencies and further strengthens our capital structure,” Group CEO Spencer Fung said in a statement, adding the proceeds would provide the group with more financial flexibility in building a digital supply chain.

Beijing-based Hony Capital holds 45 percent of the consortium. Li & Fung’s major shareholder Fung Holdings (1937) Ltd owns 45 percent, and Fung Investments Ltd holds 10 percent.

Li & Fung said it would pay a special dividend of $520 million, or HK$0.476 per share, to shareholders with the remainder $580 million to provide the company with additional financial strength.

Li & Fung said it will continue to own and operate its core services segment after the deal, including its supply chain and logistics business, and its onshore wholesale business.

Hony Capital, one of China’s largest PE firms, has about $10 billion worth of assets under management and its portfolio companies include U.S. co-working space firm WeWork, Italian luxury brand Mr & Mrs Italy and Britain’s restaurant chain PizzaExpress.

The deal is subject to independent shareholders’ approval and is expected to close in the first half of 2018, Li & Fung added.

Shares of Li & Fung ended 3.3 percent higher on Thursday, outpacing a 0.2 percent fall in the benchmark index.