Topsports International Holdings, the sports retailing arm of Belle International, raised $1.01 billion in an initial public offering on the Hong Kong stock exchange. With more than 8,000 stores, the company claims to be the largest sporting goods retailer in China, with an estimated 15.9 percent share of the market. Besides several multi-brand stores, it operates many mono-brand stores for Nike, Adidas, Puma, The North Face, Vans, Skechers, Asics and others.

Nearly 10 percent of the proceeds will be used to invest in technology and 27 percent to service short-term debt, while Belle will use 45 percent of the total to repay debt. Belle, whose other activities are in the wholesale and retail distribution of non-athletic footwear brands, was taken private in 2017 by a consortium led by Hillhouse Capital Group and CDH Investments for $6.8 billion.

The initial price of HK$ $8.50 (€0.97-$1.08) per share came at the lower end of what Belle and its advisors – Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley – had hoped for, giving a market capitalization of about US$ 6.7 billion to a company whose revenues rose last year by 22 percent to HK$ 26.5 billion (€3.0bn-$3.4bn).

Coming in at the low end was no surprise in the context of subdued investment sentiment in Hong Kong due to the continuing violent protests on the streets of the former British colony, which has affected other recent IPOs as well.

However, since its listing on Oct. 10, Topsports' share price has risen, reaching HK$ 10.28 today for a market capitalization of $8.1 billion.