City & Corporate: IPO market sees green shoots

LISTINGS Russian mining and energy companies expected to feature prominently.

The European IPO market is finally spluttering into life, with a number of potentially lucrative project briefs up for grabs if the nascent listing market comes to fruition.

For the first time since mid-2008, large-ticket European listings are well under way, with Finsbury-advised Travelport and Brunswick-advised New Look hoping to raise £1.14bn and £650m respectively over the coming weeks.

Market sources tell of a handful of £1bn-plus listing briefs up for grabs, both from private equity firms looking to divest portfolio firms and foreign companies looking to raise cash in London.

A pitch is understood to be under way at Russia's top steam coal producer SUEK, which has revived its London listing and may raise as much as £1.25bn in the summer.

Russian iron ore mining giant Metalloinvest is also said to be planning an LSE listing, potentially raising more than £1bn, and sources suggest the firm is in discussions with a number of City PR agencies.

Other Russian oil and gas and mining firms are thought to be lining up UK listings and seeking PR support, and Gazprombank is rumoured to be roadshowing its £1bn London listing next week.

One City source noted: 'Russia looks a better IPO bet than private equity-owned companies as investors can already find plenty of discounted stock in UK firms.'

A number of non-Russian firms are also eyeing the UK equity markets, notably TDC, the Danish telecom group, which is understood to have engaged Finsbury recently via its owner Nordic Telephone Company on an international media relations role after a competitive pitch. Finsbury worked for TDC during its leveraged buyout in 2005.

Czech bank CSOB is also thought to have a pitch out for an international listing.

Private equity-owned UK firms are still readying listings - including Brunswick-advised shopping firm Ocado - but their future may prove to be more uncertain. The IPO market has wobbled in recent weeks, with Belgian chemical company Taminco shelving its float and Pets at Home opting for a trade sale instead of listing.

Reports suggest that New Look may also consider a trade buy if its valuation does not reach an acceptable level.

'There was definitely a blip in the equity markets and we have seen a number of planned listings pulled,' an agency source said.

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