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The biggest IPO ever in the Philippines is from an instant noodle company

By Michelle Toh, CNN Business

Monde Nissin has made stock market history as it works to get more people to eat its noodles and fake chicken.

The maker of Lucky Me! instant noodles, an iconic brand in Southeast Asia, and meat substitute Quorn went public in the Philippines on Tuesday, raising 48.6 billion Philippine pesos (about $1 billion).

That marked the country’s biggest-ever initial public offering, and the largest listing of a food and beverage firm in Southeast Asia on record, according to Dealogic.

Much of the proceeds will go toward ramping up production of the company’s consumer goods, especially Quorn, according to CEO Henry Soesanto. Monde Nissin bought the popular UK-based meatless chicken brand in 2015 for £550 million (about $847 million at the time).

With the alternative protein space poised for “explosive growth” over the next 10 years, “we do not want to miss the opportunity,” Soesanto told CNN Business in an interview from Manila.

“We think that [increasing] capacity is very important for the next two to three years, at least to grow at the same pace with the sector.”

The company also wants to pump up the sales of its instant noodles in Asia, which it described as its “core business.”

Though it has long been a market leader in the Philippines, research indicates that the country’s consumption in the category is still relatively lower than that of its neighbors, said Soesanto.

He said that the average customer there only ate about 36 packs of noodles per year, while those in Vietnam and Indonesia usually consumed roughly 50.

Monde Nissin has a presence in more than 30 countries, and counts the Philippines and Thailand among its key markets.

In the coming years, it plans to increase its exports to existing markets throughout North America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia, and venture into new countries, including Japan, Indonesia and Vietnam, according to its prospectus.

“We just wanted to address the consumer pain point: Why some of the consumers are not eating noodles,” Soesanto said. “We are still seeing the growth potential.”

One way the company plans to tackle that is by offering healthier options. For example, it recently reduced the amount of oil in its noodles by 70%, while maintaining the taste, the executive added.

Monde Nissin is also mulling the possibility of a dual listing later on. The company did not rule out the idea of a secondary offering in the United Kingdom, where it holds about a quarter of its portfolio.

“I cannot tell as early as now, but everything is possible,” said Soesanto. “Could be London, could be US, but we do not know when.”

Shares of the company, which are listed on the Philippines Stock Exchange under ticker symbol “Monde,” were flat as of 12:45 p.m. local time on Tuesday.

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