The head of the state’s APE shareholding agency

ASSET SALES

The head of the state’s APE shareholding agency, Martin Vial, said that other corporate asset sales could follow provided that the companies were left with a solid French shareholder base and the price was attractive.

“Under these conditions, it’s possible there will be other operations to let the portfolio breath a bit,” Vial told journalists at a presentation of FDJ’s IPO.

The offering of FDJ shares has been priced in a range from 16.50 euros to 19.90 euros, valuing it between 3.15 billion and 3.8 billion euros, topping glass bottle maker Verallia , which went public in October with a market valuation of 3.2 billion euros and gross proceeds of 888 million euros.

The success of large listings like Verallia and FDJ could boost Paris as an IPO market, especially after recent flops elsewhere in Europe and New York.

The government has reserved a third of FDJ’s share sale for retail investors, hoping to entice them by offering a 2% discount and one free share for every 10 bought.

The government wants to steer more of frugal French savers’ nest eggs into the financing of French companies to make them less dependent on foreign capital.

Strong demand from domestic French investors, ranging from insurers to asset managers and private banks, is allowing FDJ to take on a dismal IPO market that has seen other big European deals scotched recently.

“The institutional placement seems to be going well, even very well, and that gives a very positive signal,” a source working on the deal said.

If the listing goes smoothly, it could embolden the government to press ahead with other big asset sales, namely the more lucrative but politically trickier disposal of airports operator ADP.

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