News Column

SSP Off To Flying Start After IPO, Abzena Also Up In Early Dealings

July 10, 2014

Steve McGrath

LONDON (Alliance News) - Food concessions operator SSP Group PLC and life sciences company Abzena PLC both got off to a good start Thursday after their initial public offerings on the London main and AIM markets, respectively, while building products and mouldings manufacturer Epwin Group PLC added itself to the AIM IPO pipeline.

SSP Group, which runs eatery concessions at airports and railway stations and owns the CaffÈ Ritazza and Upper Crust brands, priced its IPO on the main market at 210 pence a share, giving it an initial market capitalisation of GBP997 million, but its shares had risen to 220 pence by 1100 BST.

It said the IPO raised about GBP482 million in total, which will rise to about GBP554 million if the over-allotment option is taken up in full. The company raised about GBP467 million excluding the over-allotment option and the selling shareholders, which include management, employees, former directors and some mezzanine investors, will get about GBP15 million.

EQT Partners, the private equity company owned by Sweden's Wallenberg family that has owned SSP since 2006 after buying it from Compass Group PLC, will retain a 37.5% stake in the business assuming full takeup of the over-allotment option.

The market capitalisation achieved by the company is likely to push it straight into the FTSE 250 at the next quarterly index review.

"We are very pleased with the level of support that we have received from a broad range of investors during the IPO process. It is a strong endorsement of SSP's strategy, and of the potential for future growth that we see for our business," said Chief Executive Kate Swann, the respected former boss of WH Smith PLC.

Abzena, meanwhile, raised GBP20 million before expenses in its AIM IPO. It IPO price of 80 pence a share gave it an initial market capitalisation of GBP77.9 million, but it was up at 83 pence Thursday morning.

The IPO offer was for 25 million shares, while the current owners sold 3.4 million shares. It will have 97.4 million shares in issue, meaning the new shares make up 25.7% of the enlarged share capital.

The company provides services and technology for the biopharmaceutical research industry.

"We are confident that the business we have created for enabling our customers and partners to develop better biopharmaceuticals will thrive as pharmaceutical companies increasingly seek external expertise to advance their programmes. We believe that Abzena is well positioned to capitalise on this demand and we're excited about the opportunity to grow and develop the business, and to deliver value to all our stakeholders," Abzena Chief Executive John Burt said in a statement.

The company will use the money raised to increase its service company to meet growth in demand, and develop technologies to boost licence revenue opportunities.

Epwin Group added itself to the AIM IPO pipeline Thursday, saying it wants to raise GBP94 million in total in the placing. It will raise GBP10 million for the company, which will be used as part of a debt restructuring along with new debt facilities of GBP25 million.

"The reduced gearing within the group, as well as the resulting reduced annual interest burden, will allow management to operate the business with greater flexibility and result in increased cash generation," it said.

That might allow it to make acquisitions and pay dividend in the future, the maker of uPVC windows and other building products said.

Epwin made revenue of GBP264 million and adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of GBP21 million in 2013. So far in 2014, trading has continued to be in line with the directors' expectations, it said. Revenues for the three months ended March 31 were about GBP62 million.

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Source: Alliance News

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