Listen to this article
Eutelsat, the Paris-based satellite operator that scrapped an initial public offering in October, on Wednesday managed to get the IPO off the ground – but towards the bottom end of the indicative price range.
The €12 a share price, which was taken from a revised range of €11.75-€12.75, values the world’s third-largest satellite operator at about €2.6bn ($3bn).
Last month Eutelsat cut the mid-price of the planned offering by 22 per cent and then abandoned it altogether, citing difficult market conditions.
Jean-Paul Brillaud, deputy chief executive, told the FT: “At the time I think it was a particularly bad day [on the French stock market] – one of the worst days for the past few years. We were afraid that it could continue to go down, which would not have been good for our investors.”
As Eutelsat was finalising its plans at the start of October, the CAC 40 enjoyed its highest point of the year, but then dropped more than 6 per cent by October 28, the planned launch date of the IPO. The CAC 40 has since recovered by more than 5 per cent.
Eutelsat expects to raise €860m, which it will use to pay down debt from a current level of about €3.4bn and remove the most expensive layers – pay-in-kind loans and second-lien.
It hopes the listed company will benefit from having newer satellites than rivals such as SES Global, which means less cashflow will have to be diverted to expensive new satellites.
New investors will control up to 34 per cent of the post-IPO capital. The group’s shareholders prior to the IPO were Eurazeo, Spectrum Equity Investors, Texas Pacific Group, Cinven and Goldman Sachs Capital Partners. They have not sold their stakes.
After a “competitive” IPO, using multiple lead advisers, on its attempted flotation in October, Eutelsat chose Goldman Sachs as global co-ordinator and lead bookrunner on the revised offer.
“I think in the very accelerated timeframe that we were contemplating, a tight execution was necessary,” said one close to the process.
Eutelsat, whose customers include Sky Italia and BSkyB, aims to launch two new satellites in the first half of next year. The shares are due to start trading in Paris on Friday.