Sunday 17 December 2017

Postponed IPOs are nothing new in the markets

Richard Moat, CEO of Eir (formerly Eircom) said his company’s decision to cancel a flotation paid off in the end
Richard Moat, CEO of Eir (formerly Eircom) said his company’s decision to cancel a flotation paid off in the end
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

While expectations were high that Digicel would launch on the New York Stock Exchange on Friday, postponed flotations are nothing new.

Eircom, now called Eir, cancelled its plans last year to return to the stock market in a €3bn flotation, largely because it believed that potential investors weren't valuing the business and its prospects highly enough.

Last month, Eir chief executive Richard Moat said that had been borne out by the company's improving financial performance. Eir also rejected a €3.3bn buyout approach earlier this year.

Packaging giant Ardagh, headed by Dublin financier Paul Coulson, in the past couple of years has also pulled a planned stockmarket flotation of its business due to market volatility.

Earlier this year, it instead announced plans to float part of its business - a unit that makes metal containers for consumer products - in a plan that could value that division at over €2bn.

But that flotation, slated for New York, hasn't happened yet either.

Plans by the Government to sell a stake in State-owned AIB have also been put on hold until next summer. It had been anticipated that the Government would sell a 25pc stake in the bank before the end of this year.

According to Bloomberg, companies going public in the United States between July and September this year raised about $6.1bn between them. That's the lowest volume during the third quarter of a year since 2012.

Bloomberg noted that a "cocktail" of events has fuelled uncertainty and volatility in US equity markets. Among them were concerns about the Chinese economy. The US Federal Reserve also delayed raising interest rates last month, keeping them at record lows.

The move also raised questions about whether higher rates could rattle stock markets when they do eventually come.

The fact that Digicel has postponed its flotation will unnerve other companies whose shares were to be floated in coming days and weeks.

A nervous stock market will just have become a bit more jittery.

Irish Independent

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