BAWAG raises 1.9 billion euros in Austria’s biggest IPO: Reuters

Stakeholders in Austria’s BAWAG (BAWG.VI), the former trade union bank bought by U.S. private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management [CBS.UL], have raised 1.9 billion euros in Austria’s biggest ever listing, capping a decade-long turnaround.

BAWAG had to be bailed out in 2006 when it narrowly escaped a bank run after being sued by creditors of collapsed U.S. futures trader Refco, one of its affiliates. It was then sold to Cerberus and other investors for 3.2 billion euros ($3.8 billion).

BAWAG, Austria’s fourth-biggest bank, said on Tuesday the sale of 40.3 percent of the company had been priced at 48 euros a share, at the bottom of the recently narrowed range of 48-49 euros it had previously announced, valuing the company at 4.8 billion euros.

As part of the initial public offering, Cerberus is relinquishing majority ownership, selling down its 53 percent stake to 32 percent, according to the IPO prospectus. GoldenTree Asset Management is reducing its holding to 24 percent from 39 percent.

BAWAG itself is not receiving any proceeds from the IPO.

“We welcome all our new shareholders and look forward to continuing our success story as a publicly listed company,” BAWAG Chief Executive Anas Abuzaakouk said in the statement announcing the IPO price.

The move brings roughly 1 billion euros into Cerberus’s coffers after a decade of discipline in which it has focused BAWAG on its core businesses, slashed costs and set its sights on expansion in German-speaking countries.

One such cost-saving measure has been a deal to share branches with Austrian Post (POST.VI), but as part of the IPO BAWAG said it planned to give notice to Austrian Post to bring that deal to an end on Jan. 1., 2021, after which it would operate its own network of branches.

The bank has been accumulating capital and is on the lookout for acquisitions. It agreed in July to buy German regional lender Suedwestbank, which it plans to use as a beachhead for further expansion in Germany.

Unlike larger Austrian lenders Raiffeisen (RBIV.VI) and Erste Group (ERST.VI), which have chosen to operate across eastern Europe to tap that region’s higher growth potential, BAWAG has turned its back on eastern markets, betting that consolidation in western Europe will provide opportunity.

The free float will be 39.9 percent, provided a greenshoe option is exercised in full, BAWAG said. Wednesday is due to be the first day of trading in its shares in Vienna.