News Column

Report: IMC may go public

August 4, 2014

By Pat Kimbrough, The High Point Enterprise, N.C.

Aug. 04--HIGH POINT -- The company that owns a majority of the furniture showroom space in High Point is reportedly considering an initial public offering.

The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that Bain Capital and Oaktree Capital Group -- two private-equity firms that formed International Market Centers in 2011 -- are looking to raise about $530 million to refinance debt and provide working capital.

The newspaper reported that the IPO could be completed late this year or early in 2015 and could give IMC a stock market value of about $1 billion.

"We aren't commenting on speculation," IMC's CEO Bob Maricich stated in an email.

The head of the entity that organizes and promotes High Point's semi-annual furniture trade show said he wasn't surprised IMC might consider taking the company public.

"In general, they were pretty clear from the beginning they were going to go public," said High Point Market Authority President and CEO Tom Conley. "Traditionally, those investment bankers are in a three-to-five-year time frame where they like to get their money back. I have no inside information at all, but it seems to me we're in that time frame. So I wouldn't be surprised if they wanted to take some of their money back to reward their investors."

IMC also owns World Market Center in Las Vegas.

Experts say it appears to be a good sign for High Point that the company would consider going public.

"If High Point didn't breathe a large sigh of relief when IMC was formed, it should have, because that, in my view, really put to bed the biggest existential concerns about the market in High Point," said Andrew Brod, senior research fellow at the Center for Business & Economic Research at UNC-Greensboro."I don't think this should raise any fears among High Pointers about the future of the market."

Conley said that an IPO would give people within the furniture industry locally and beyond a chance to take ownership of IMC.

"Whether it's an overall good thing, I'm really not certain," said Conley. "I would love to see how many shares are issued. I would love to see if people locally are going to be able to purchase some stock. That would certainly help us and make us feel better."

Brod said an IPO means the company would essentially be "selling a claim in the future profits of running both markets."

He said the general public might not notice such a change in IMC's financial structure.

"There's a whole literature about IPOs and how they're designed to generate a bump in the price and make a profit for people first in, and get the market excited about the stock so rank and file investors are sure to keep the demand for the stock up and keep the stock price up," said Brod.|888-3531


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Source: High Point Enterprise (NC)

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