Last updated: April 25, 2013 7:09 pm

Evonik finally finds right chemistry to reach market

Europe’s biggest public listing this year took place on Thursday when Evonik Industries, a German chemicals company, made its trading debut in Frankfurt, valuing it at €15.4bn.

Investors gave their vote of confidence, sending the shares climbing 2.3 per cent to close at €32.94.

Private equity firm CVC Capital Partners and RAG Foundation sold 14.5 per cent of Evonik through a series of pre-listing placements.

The shares were valued at just over €2bn, making it the biggest public listing of a German company since 2007.

It marks a milestone for the German group after numerous failed attempts to come to market.

In February, the owners revived plans to take part of the company public after being forced to scrap a €3bn-€5bn initial public offering last year due to market volatility.

“I am delighted that, together with CVC, we have brought Evonik to the market within this short timeframe,” said Werner Müller, chairman of RAG Foundation.

Klaus Engel, chairman of Evonik, added: “Today is a good day for the company and for the German stock market.”

Evonik’s success is likely to lift hopes of the European IPO market is open for business again after a two-year slump.

However, the company’s final route to market was unconventional and different from a typical initial public offering.

CVC and RAG Foundation approached investors already familiar with the company from earlier IPO attempts, securing 12 per cent of the shares with institutional investors ahead of the public listing.

Then earlier this week the two owners sold just over 2 per cent more of the group’s shares through another placement, which priced the shares at €32.20.

“It’s a very unusual situation,” said one personal familiar with the transactions.

“There were 16 research reports already published and around 1,000 investors had been approached so there was high visibility, which made it very easy to contact investors and to do this approach,” the person added.

CVC and RAG Foundation declined to disclose how much they raised in total through the other placements.

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RAG Foundation was created to take over liabilities from the German coal mining industry in return for selling Evonik.

It sold down a 25 per cent stake in Evonik to CVC for €2.4bn in 2008.

At €15bn, Evonik would have a bigger equity value than German peers Brenntag and Lanxess, which have market capitalisations of €6bn and €4.5bn, respectively, according to Bloomberg data.

However, it would be smaller than BASF, which has a market capitalisation of €63bn.

Evonik had sales of €14.5bn and operating profits of €2.8bn in 2011.

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