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KEY STAT | The detergent maker which beat P&G and Unilever in China files for Hong Kong IPO

Hillhouse Capital-backed Blue Moon is to raise up to USD 1 billion in a Hong Kong public offering.

China’s biggest laundry detergent maker Blue Moon, backed by Hillhouse Capital, has submitted its prospectus for a Hong Kong IPO on Monday, aiming to raise as much as USD 1 billion as soon as the third quarter of this year, according to Reuters and South China Morning Post.

Having outcompeted international brands like P&G, Unilever, as well as major local players like Liby, Blue Moon’s liquid laundry detergent, hand sanitizer, and condensed detergent products have been the most popular in their respective markets for three consecutive years, per research from Frost & Sullivan in its prospectus.

In recent years, the brand has tapped China’s booming e-commerce scene to boost its sales. Online sales channels are occupying an increasing share of the company’s revenue, from 33% in 2017 to 47% in 2019.

In 2019’s “Singles’ Day” online shopping festival, Blue Moon topped the charts for household cleaning products on JD.com (NASDAQ:JD) and Tmall.

Online sales channels account for an increasing share of China's detergent maker Blue Moon's sales

The Chinese detergent maker reported HKD 7 billion (USD 900 million) in revenue for 2019, up 2.9% year-on-year, with laundry detergent accounting for 90% of its revenue.

Blue Moon’s success today has to take credit from its one and only external investor, Hillhouse Capital, whose founder Zhang Lei got in touch and backed the Guangzhou-based detergent manufacturer as early as 2008, despite Blue Moon’s loss-making business and the global financial crisis.

Zhang also encouraged Blue Moon to develop liquid detergent products at around 2010, by which time P&G, Unilever, and Liby owned a huge chunk of the Chinese market with soap and powder products, while liquid versions took up less than 3% of the market.

Hillhouse Capital, Asia’s biggest venture capital firm, is known as one of the earliest backers of Chinese internet giants like Tencent (HKG: 0700) and JD.com (NASDAQ: JD). Earlier this week, it saw three of its healthcare investments go public on the same day, KrASIA reported.