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Archive for August 14th, 2009

Here is some upbeat news from BusinessWeek.

“After months of market turmoil, are investors finally ready for a slew of brand-new stocks?

The owners of some private companies think so. In early August, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts announced plans to raise about $1 billion through an initial public offering. There’s speculation that buyout giant Kohlberg Kravis Roberts is preparing retail chain Dollar General (DG) for a stock debut. Last month 12 companies filed with regulators to go public—the most since investment bank Lehman Brothers failed back in September 2008.

The conditions for IPOs have improved dramatically since the desolation of last winter. Stocks have rallied from their lows. And new companies are outperforming blue chips: The FTSE Renaissance Capital IPO Composite Index, which tracks the returns of IPOs, is up roughly 33% this year, vs. 7% for the Dow Jones industrial average. “Nobody’s pushing any dogs here,” says Gregg Slager of Ernst & Young’s private equity consulting group.

To be sure, the glory days aren’t back. The pipeline, though improving, isn’t bursting with new listings: At the peak of the boom, dozens of companies filed to go public each month. And obviously the businesses can’t raise $18 billion at a pop, as credit processor Visa (V) did with its offering in 2007. While the largest IPO of this year, Starwood Property Trust, raised the size of its offering from $500 million, it still raked in just $800 million in early August.

But the increased IPO activity may signal that the recession is easing—or at least that investors think the economy is on the mend. “There’s confidence in the market,” says Harris Smith, managing partner of private equity for Grant Thornton, a consulting firm. And “there’s pent-up demand for new, quality stocks.” After the dot-com bust, new stock offerings picked up just as the economy started to turn.

BUYOUTS RULE

Private equity owners are the most active participants in the IPO markets nowadays. Of the 16 companies that have gone public this year, 8 are backed by buyout firms. And more IPOs are in the works. “There are a couple of companies that are definitely candidates [for going public],” Tony James, chief operations officer of Blackstone (BX), said in a recent earnings call. “If the markets hold up and continue the trend, you will see some IPOs from our portfolio.””

Read the full article here.

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