Last month in IPO Watch, we reported that the year had got off to a flying start with news of thetrainline.com’s potential IPO. However, on… Read more
Last month in IPO Watch, we reported that the year had got off to a flying start with news of thetrainline.com’s potential IPO. However, on 22 January it was announced that thetrainline.com had been purchased by US private equity firm KKR. Exponent, thetrainline.com’s previous private equity owners, had owned the business since 2006 and had tried to sell the company several times over the past few years before announcing listing plans in January and subsequently finding a buyer in KKR.
This about-turn follows the precedent set by many businesses last year, with companies such as Travelex, a travel money and currency conversion business, and MandM Direct, a UK-based mail-order and online discount retailer, switching to sales from an IPO process. In May last year, Apax abandoned plans to float Travelex and instead sold to an entrepreneur together with equity partners associated with Centurion Investments. In June last year, the private equity owner of MandM Direct Limited sold the business to a Danish fashion retailer.
Another potential IPO is under the watchful eye of private equity investors. Apax is currently working on an IPO of Auto Trader although it has been reported in the press that US private equity firm Hellman & Friedman is preparing a £2bn takeover bid for Auto Trader, which would derail what is expected to be one of the year’s bigger IPOs.
Although some predicted a rush to list in the run up to the general election in May to avoid potential market volatility, it appears that there is slightly more caution than was previously expected. However, investors across Europe still remain enthusiastic, with IPOs including the Swiss telecommunications company, Sunrise Communications, and Eltel, a Swedish provider of technical services to the power, communications and transportation industries. With an uncertain start to the year, and the general election getting ever closer, investors will be keeping a close watch on the UK capital markets.
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