French building materials group Consolis prepares autumn float, say sources: Reuters

Private equity-owned French building materials company Consolis is preparing for a stock market flotation in the European autumn as is hopes to take advantage of robust equities markets and a rebound of the French construction industry, sources close to the matter said.

Consolis owner Bain Capital has asked Rothschild (ROTH.PA) to act as advisor on the initial public offering, which may value the company at about 1.5 billion euros ($1.8 billion), including debt, they said.

Bain and Rothschild declined to comment.

Consolis makes precast concrete pieces, such as walls, bridges, tunnels, pipes or railways sleepers. It employs more than 11,000 people and posted flat revenues of 1.4 billion euros in 2017, with half of the sales made in Scandinavian countries.

Investment banks have been asked to get ready to pitch for the role of “global coordinators” this month, the sources said.

Consolis was bought last year by Bain Capital from LBO France for an undisclosed sum. Its roots go back to the 19th century, when French engineer Aime Bonna founded a supplier of reinforced concrete pipes.

That company later acquired construction materials group Sateba, which specialized in systems allowing concrete blocks to be attached to one another – a standard piece of construction material used in the railway industry.

Sateba was owned for nearly 80 years by the historic Compagnie Generale des Eaux. AXA Private Equity then bought the firm, which was subsequently called Bonna Sabla, in 2002.

It was rebranded Consolis in 2005 after a merger with Scandinavian construction firm Consolis and was sold on to investor Industri Kapital in 2006.

The European construction sector saw contrasting fortunes in the first quarter.

Still supported in France by the gradual recovery of the construction market and the large construction sites of greater Paris, the activity in northern Europe has however suffered from particularly severe winter weather conditions.

The Swedish building industry has been booming in recent years on the back of rising residential construction sparked by soaring home prices. The housing market has however shown signs of losing steam, leading to a rise in bankruptcies among small builders and expectations construction will fall sharply over the coming two years.