Archive for March 17th, 2011

Article from NY Times.

“After getting off to a strong start in 2011, the market for initial public offerings has started to cool as a result of global uncertainty caused by the disaster in Japan.

In the last week, several companies have either tempered their expectations or delayed their offerings. On Wednesday, Lagardère, the French media conglomerate run by Arnaud Lagardère, said it would put off the initial public offering of its stake in Canal Plus France, the pay-television company.

“Due to the scale of the disaster in Japan, and thereof to the extreme volatility of the markets, the Lagardère Group has decided to postpone” the offering of Canal Plus France, the company said in a statement.

The private equity firm Apollo Global Management, which appeared to be on track to submit plans for its market debut to regulators, is “now waiting for a better time,” Reuters reported on on Tuesday.

There is also speculation that Glencore, the giant commodities trader, may delay filing its paperwork with regulators. The company had been talking with investors for several weeks about a potential offering that could value the company at $60 billion. Glencore, which has never publicly discussed an offering, declined to comment.

Any reticence is understandable, given the volatility in the stock markets. Most of the major United States indexes were down on Wednesday, with the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index dropping 1.95 percent, to 1,256.88. The S&P 500 is essentially flat for the year.

“If the nuclear problems in Japan stabilize immediately, and U.S. markets recover, the I.P.O. market will go back to the schedule it was on a week ago,” said Jay Ritter, a professor of finance at the University of Florida. “If there’s a further sell-off, a lot of deals will be postponed.”

Before the disaster in Japan, the I.P.O. market was on track for a banner year. In the United States, the volume of new offerings topped $12 billion through early March. It was the best start since 2000 and six times stronger than the same period in 2010, according to Thomson Reuters data. Much of that activity came from private-equity-backed companies like HCA, the hospital chain that raised $3.8 billion in its offering.

But new public companies are often considered riskier than well-established blue chips, making them more sensitive to market upheavals.

“I.P.O.’s tend to be perceived as high-risk investments,” Professor Ritter said, “and when there’s a flight to quality, they get hammered most. In 2007, the S.&P. was at an all-time high. At the beginning of 2008, I.P.O.’s started to dry up well before the big collapse in September.”

At least one major deal appears to be on track. The ISS Group — the Danish financial services company that is being listed in a $2.5 billion offering by its private equity owners, Goldman Sachs and EQT of Sweden — is moving forward with its planned offering.

The company is closing its offering on Thursday, said a person with knowledge of the matter who was not authorized to speak publicly, after having received orders for all of the shares. The person acknowledge that the markets were volatile right now, but said that ISS was already far along in the process before the disaster in Japan.

“Obviously, it creates some questions from people,” the person said.”

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