Belle International may spin off sportswear

The private-equity owners of Chinese women’s shoe retailer Belle International Holdings are considering a spinoff of its sportswear distribution business.

Hillhouse Capital and CDH Investments, which took Belle private in a US$6.8 billion deal completed in July, are weighing a Hong Kong IPO of the unit as soon as next year, insiders say. A listing could raise about $1 billion, reports Bloomberg.

With more than 20,000 retail outlets, mostly in Mainland China, Belle sells such brands as Adidas, Nike and Puma. The Shenzhen-based company also makes shoes under its own labels including Belle, Millie’s and Staccato, and its separate sportswear and apparel business sells sneakers and clothing under other brands.

Belle was taken private last year as Chinese shoppers went increasingly online. The buyout gave Hillhouse a 57.6 per cent stake, while CDH holds 11.9 per cent and management members own the balance.

Hong Kong-based Hillhouse, led by founder Lei Zhang, oversees more than $25 billion while CDH, established in 2002 by former China International Capital Corp. dealmakers, invested in Belle before the shoe company’s IPO.

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