Goldman is planning an initial public offering in Hong Kong but it’s not the Goldman you’ve heard of. Goldman Faith Holdings Ltd., a local engineering subcontractor which adopted its current name less than a month ago, lodged an application to list on the main board of the Hong Kong stock exchange, according to a December 19 filing.
The name of the company, which works on electrical systems for hospitals in the city, sports similarities to Wall Street investment bank Goldman Sachs Group Inc. in both English and Chinese. The Chinese name of Goldman Sachs, which combines connotations of prestige and prosperity, is pronounced “go sing” by Cantonese speakers in Hong Kong. Goldman Faith also chose a Chinese name read as “go sing,” using an identical first syllable and a second syllable with the same sound but different intonation. The subcontractor’s Chinese name has the meaning of prestige and integrity.
“For a lot of investors, the name is all they know about a company,” Mike Leung, an investment manager at Hong Kong brokerage Wocom Securities Ltd., said by phone Wednesday. “The company is probably hoping that it gets more publicity and more people would pay attention.”
Securing an attractive corporate name is especially important in the Chinese financial hub of Hong Kong, where all new listings must have a portion set aside for the city’s individual investors. Small-time stock buyers eager for a quick buck sometimes make investment decisions based on elements of luck in the company’s stock code or name, rather than earnings forecasts or industry outlook.
The preliminary prospectus of Goldman Faith doesn’t say how much it hopes to raise or provide a detailed timeline for the offering. Wong Siu-ming, the general manager of Goldman Faith, said by phone Dec. 21 that he can’t comment and will leave media inquiries to an external public-relations agency, which the company hasn’t yet hired.
A representative for Guoyuan Capital (Hong Kong) Ltd., the sole sponsor of the listing, declined to comment. Goldman Sachs confirmed it doesn’t have any affiliation with Goldman Faith.
“We take all necessary steps to protect our intellectual property, including our name,” Edward Naylor, a Hong Kong-based spokesman for Goldman Sachs, said by e-mail, declining to comment on whether it will take any action in this case.
While Goldman Faith’s business has been around about three decades, its current moniker is of more recent origin. The group’s founder, Yung On-wah, started Cornwall Contracting Co. in 1987 and set up Cornwall Electrical Engineering Ltd. in 2010 as he sought more private-sector contracts, according to the preliminary prospectus.
Goldman Faith was incorporated in the Cayman Islands in October this year, in preparation for a corporate reorganization completed last month that made it the new holding company for both Cornwall Contracting and Cornwall Electrical, the prospectus shows. Companies seeking an initial public offering in Hong Kong often set up a new corporate structure before the listing.
Beyond the name similarities, Goldman Faith’s website showcases a stylized rendering of the Hong Kong central business district where one can see the tower that houses Goldman Sachs’s local office. Goldman Faith’s headquarters isn’t in any of the glimmering skyscrapers depicted in the graphic, but in Kwai Chung, a gritty industrial neighborhood on the other side of the harbor that’s about 20 minutes away by taxi.
Goldman Sachs, one of the most revered names in finance, has long been a popular target for other companies seeking to borrow some of its cachet. Goldman Sachs (Shenzhen) Financial Leasing Co., which also has no affiliation with the U.S. institution, has been operating in a southern Chinese city across the border from Hong Kong.
The net income of Goldman Faith rose 8.2 percent in the year through Sept. 30 to reach HK$30 million ($3.9 million), according to its preliminary prospectus. Revenue increased 6.3 percent to HK$192 million. About 70 percent of Goldman Faith’s sales in the most recent financial year came from hospital projects, including work on electrical wiring, alarm systems and nurse call buttons, the prospectus shows.
Hong Kong is the world’s busiest listing venue this year, with $25.1 billion of fundraising from first-time share sales, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Shanghai ranked second with $17.2 billion, followed by New York at $14.4 billion, the data show.
Listing candidates in Hong Kong sometimes choose their names based on principles of feng shui, the Chinese philosophy of harmonizing with the environment, according to Pamela Chung, a managing director at stock registry Computershare Hong Kong Investor Services Ltd. Smaller firms may also believe picking names that resemble larger, more famous companies can make them more memorable, she said.
“A similar name may attract more attention from retail investors,” Chung said.