Baring-backed Courts Asia courts Singapore IPO

The listing would mean an exit for Baring Private Equity Asia, which, along with Topaz Investment Worldwide, owns the Southeast Asian chain of electrical products and furniture stores.

Baring Private Equity Asia-backed retail chain Courts Asia has signaled its intention to list on the Singapore Stock Exchange with the filing of a draft perspective with the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

Though no details on pricing or timing were included in the draft prospectus, the company is expecting to raise around S$150 million ($107 million) through the issue of new and existing shares, sources told Reuters. It is expected to finalise pricing after an investor road show.

Courts Asia has 55 stores across Singapore and Malaysia, selling electrical and IT products and furniture. It is owned by Asia Retail Group, which is jointly backed by Baring Private Equity Asia and Middle Eastern investor Topaz Investment Worldwide.

The two firms bought 54 percent of Singapore-listed Courts Group in mid-2007 for S$56.2 million, valuing the firm at just over S$100 million. At the time, the company was operating at a loss. In 2008, the firm bought the remaining shares in the company, delisting it in the process.

In a separate transaction, Baring and Topaz also bought and delisted Malaysia-listed Courts Mammoth Berhad in September 2007. The combined entities, which also have operations in Indonesia and Thailand, make up Courts Asia.

According to the draft prospectus, the company plans to use the proceeds of the IPO to expand its network of stores in Malaysia, fund its consumer credit business, refinance its debt facilities, and buy the rights to the Courts brand from Asia Retail Group.  

Baring Private Equity Asia declined to comment.