By Denise A. Valdez, Reporter

FRUITAS HOLDINGS, Inc. has been cleared by the country’s corporate regulator to conduct its initial public offering (IPO) next month.

In a statement yesterday, the food and drinks kiosk operator said it has been given the pre-effective clearance by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for its planned IPO, moving it closer to listing at the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE).

“We are thankful to the SEC for granting pre-effective clearance for our IPO as this will allow us to serve our products to more Filipinos, source more raw materials, employ more people and contribute to the growth of the Philippine economy,” Fruitas President and Chief Executive Officer Lester C. Yu was quoted as saying.

Fruitas is planning to offer 533,660,000 primary common shares with an over-allotment option of up to 68,340,000 outstanding common shares, priced at a maximum of P1.99 apiece. This is equivalent to 28.2% of the company being opened to public investors.

The offer period is targeted to start on Nov. 18 until Nov. 22, with listing at the PSE scheduled on Nov. 29.

The company aims to generate P1.2 billion in the IPO, which will fund its expansion plans, acquisitions, introduction of new concepts and debt repayment.

“Going public will further strengthen our position as the leading food & beverage kiosk business player in the country and broaden the opportunities for growth,” Mr. Yu said.

Fruitas is tapping BDO Capital & Investment Corp. and First Metro Investment Corp. as joint issue managers, bookrunners and lead underwriters for the offering.

The company said it was able to grow its stores to 949 as of June from more than 400 in end-2016. Its consolidated revenues ended at P1.58 billion last year, up 37% from a year ago on the back of strong sales from its stores.

Among the brands it owns are Fruitas Fresh From Babot’s Farm, Buko Loco, Juice Avenue, Buko Ni Fruitas, Johnn Lemon and Black Pearl. It also operates food parks such as Uno Cinquenta in Maginhawa and Le Village The Lifestyle Park in E. Rodriguez, Sr.

Three companies have so far conducted IPOs this year: Kepwealth Property Phils, Inc. which raised P385 million, Axelum Resources Corp. which raised P4 billion and AllHome Corp. which raised P14.9 billion.