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Hunt urges Shein boss to pursue blockbuster London float



Jeremy Hunt has held talks with the boss of Shein, the Chinese-founded fast fashion giant, in a bid to persuade the company to commit to what would be one of London’s biggest-ever corporate flotations.

Sky News can exclusively reveal the chancellor met Donald Tang, Shein’s executive chairman, this month as part of British regulators’ and government officials’ efforts to convince it to list in the UK.

Insiders confirmed the two men had held “productive” discussions about a London initial public offering amid signs its initial target of a New York flotation is faltering.

Sky News revealed Shein’s deliberations over a London listing in December, with Bloomberg News repeating those considerations were ongoing in a report on Tuesday.

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The meeting between Mr Hunt and Mr Tang underlines the importance British officials are attaching to the idea of trumping the US in an effort to land the Shein IPO.

One capital markets banker said if it proceeded, Shein could become the London Stock Exchange’s second-largest IPO in history, behind the 2011 stock market debut of Glencore International, the commodities trading and mining group.

Mr Tang has already met executives from the LSE as well as more junior ministers as part of its IPO preparations.

Shein filed documents for a New York listing last year, but has reportedly grown concerned its application may be rejected by the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley have been appointed to work on the deal.

Shein operates in more than 150 countries. Pic: Reuters

Based in Singapore, Shein has become one of the world’s largest online fashion retailers, although its growth has not been untroubled amid mounting concerns about labour standards.

Last year, Sky News revealed Shein was in talks to buy the British fashion brand Missguided from Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group.

While the transaction itself was worth only a modest sum, retail analysts said it could pave the way for Shein to build a more meaningful profile in the UK, potentially through a broader collaboration with Frasers.

Founded in China in 2012, Shein was valued at over $100bn last year, at which point it was worth more than H&M and Zara’s parent company, Inditex, combined.

The company’s valuation was slashed to $66bn as part of a share sale last year.

Shein now operates in more than 150 countries.

It has also struck an agreement with SPARC Group, a joint venture between the Ted Baker-owner ABG and Simon Property Group, a US shopping mall operator.

Under that deal, SPARC’s Forever 21 fashion brand gained distribution on the Shein platform, which boasts 150m users globally.

Shein acquired a one-third stake in SPARC Group, while SPARC Group also took an undisclosed minority interest in Shein.

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The LSE’s efforts to court Shein come during a period of crisis for the City as a listing venue for large multinationals, with ARM Holdings, the UK-based chip designer, opting to float in New York rather than London.

Other companies, such as the gambling operator Flutter Entertainment and drug company Indivior, are planning to shift their primary listings to the US, citing higher valuations and more liquid markets.

Shein declined to comment, while the Treasury could not be reached for comment.

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