© Reuters. Trading information for KKR & Co is displayed on a screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., August 23, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
By Miho Uranaka
TOKYO (Reuters) -U.S. private equity firm KKR & Co (NYSE:) Inc plans to take Japanese chip equipment maker Kokusai Electric Corp public in an IPO as early as June, three sources said, in what is likely to be Tokyo’s biggest listing in more than three years.
While the size of the initial public offering was not immediately clear, one of the sources said Kokusai Electric would likely list with a market value of around 700 billion yen ($5.67 billion).
That would make it the biggest company to list in Tokyo since SoftBank Group Corp listed its telecom unit with a market value of 7.2 trillion yen in late 2018, according to Refinitiv data.
The Tokyo bourse is set to approve the listing as early as May, according to the three sources, all of whom declined to be identified because the matter was still private.
Lead underwriters include SMBC Nikko Securities, a unit of Sumitomo Mitsui (NYSE:) Financial Group, and Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE:), two of the sources said.
KKR plans to sell part of its stake to domestic and overseas investors, according to the three sources.
KKR, Kokusai Electric, the Tokyo Stock Exchange, SMBC Nikko and Goldman Sachs all declined to comment.
Kokusai Electric was spun off from Hitachi (OTC:) Kokusai Electric Inc in June 2018.
The planned listing comes after U.S. firm Applied Materials (NASDAQ:) terminated its $3.5-billion deal to buy Kokusai Electric in March last year after failing to obtain regulatory approval from China.
Kokusai Electric said at the time it would continue to seek strategic partners and that an IPO would be an option.
KKR initially aimed for an IPO in March, but decided to delay as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and higher U.S. interest rates hit the global stock market.
Kokusai Electric, a maker of equipment for thin film formation, reported operating profit of 60 billion yen on sales of 178 billion yen in the year ended March last year.
Global demand for chip equipment has surged as semiconductors are being used in everything from artificial intelligence, self-driving cars and other new technology.
Global sales of total semiconductor manufacturing equipment by original equipment manufacturers reached a new high of $103 billion in 2021, surging 44.7% from the previous industry record of $71 billion in 2020, according to industry group SEMI.
($1 = 123.6900 yen)