Bankrate IPO a Win for Apax

(Reuters) – Bankrate Inc said it expects to raise up to $320 million from its initial public offering that could value the publisher of online personal finance content at about $1.6 billion.

Bankrate’s IPO could bring a potential windfall for its largest shareholder, Ben Holdings, backed by Apax Partners, which took the company private in 2009 for $571 million.

Bankrate joins a growing list of private-equity backed listings such as consumer research firm Nielsen Holdings , Florida lender BankUnited Inc, pipeline company Kinder Morgan Inc and hospital operator HCA Holdings Inc .

Recent data from London-based research firm Preqin shows that there have been 201 PE-backed exits so far this quarter, valued at $85 billion. That is five percent higher than the record level reached in the fourth quarter of 2010, Preqin said.

After Bankrate lists, Ben Holdings will have the right to nominate a majority of the board members as it will retain a stake of about 70 percent in the company.

Bankrate said it expects to sell 12.5 million shares for $14-$16 a share. Selling stockholders would sell an additional 7.5 million shares.

In April, Bankrate had filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for an IPO of up to $500 million.

After posting a profit of $20 million in 2009, the company has operated at a loss in the past two years. It reported a loss of $43 million in 2009 and of $39 million in 2010, according to the filing.

The company, which began as a newsletter before moving to the internet, runs various personal finance websites, including its flagship Bankrate.com, collecting and publishing rates and other financial data in areas including mortgages, car loans, banking fees and retirement savings.

North Palm Beach, Florida-based Bankrate said it intends to list the common stock on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “RATE.”

Goldman Sachs, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Citigroup and JPMorgan are leading underwriters on the IPO.

(Reporting by Jochelle Mendonca; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)