Hong Kong-based conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa has hired three banks to manage the stock market listing of its AS Watson division, according to a media report.
The company run by Asia's wealthiest man, Li Ka-shing, has appointed Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs and HSBC to manage the floatation during 2014, Sky News reported citing insiders.
AS Watson, the world's biggest health and beauty retailer, is expected to be listed in both Hong Kong and London, according to the insiders. Nevertheless, Hutchison is yet to make a firm decision about the UK listing, as Singapore is also trying to get the retailer floated on its stock market.
AS Watson is the owner of Superdrug, Britain's second-largest specialist health and beauty retailer after Boots. Superdrug operates nearly 900 shops in the UK and Ireland. AS Watson also owns the Perfume Shop, the biggest fragrances retailer in the UK.
The division has interests in 33 countries through a network of more than 11,000 shops, under various health & beauty, luxury perfumeries & cosmetics, food, electronics, fine wine and beverages brands. It employs about 100,000 people across the globe.
Li Ka-shing had previously been looking to sell Hong Kong grocery chain Park'n'Shop that is one of AS Watson's largest individual businesses. Li, however, scrapped the plan as potential buyers could not match his asking price of $4bn (£2.5bn, €2.9bn).
Secondary Listing in London
Hutchison is one of the largest inward investors in the UK, with interests in ports, mobile communications, water supply and other utilities.
The secondary listing of AS Watson which is projected to have a market value of up to $25bn would be beneficial for London Stock Exchange, amid a debate over the quality of foreign companies listed there.
Nevertheless, the London listing is expected to be more complicated for Hutchison due to the recent change in listing rules, a person close to the situation told Sky News.