NXP IPO Prices Very Low

(Reuters) – Dutch chipmaker NXP Semiconductors NV NXPI.O, the first of four big private equity-backed IPOs in the U.S. pipeline, priced shares in its stock flotation more than 28 percent below the midpoint of the expected range, according to an underwriter.

The company sold 34 million shares for $14 each, raising about $476 million. It had planned to sell shares for $18 to $21 each.

NXP originally filed for an IPO worth up to $1.15 billion, but later said it only hoped to raise $663 million when it set the terms for the deal in late July. Deutsche Bank AG (DBKGn.DE) lost its underwriting slot for the IPO in April because it refused to renew a $60 million line of credit for the chipmaker. [ID:nN13252838]

“It’s a big company and it’s branded but the competition is intense and it’s time for them to make money,” said IPOdesktop.com President Francis Gaskins.

NXP, whose customers include Apple Inc (AAPL.O), Bosch and Huawei Technologies Co Ltd [HWT.UL], posted a 66 percent increase in sales in the first three months of the year compared with a year earlier. But sales fell in each of 2007, 2008 and 2009 and the company has never posted a net profit.

Chipmakers overall have reported rising sales in the second quarter, as customers who sharply cut orders during last year’s economic downturn replenished inventories.

But chipmaker shares have failed to rally much in recent weeks, even when the companies have reported better-than-expected results, on fears that demand will slow in the highly cyclical industry.

NXP is based in Eindhoven in the south of the Netherlands, where several Dutch technology companies, particularly in the semiconductor industry, are based. ASML (ASML.AS), which makes the lithography machines that etch circuits onto semiconductors, is also in Eindhoven.

PRIVATE EQUITY WOES

NXP was bought out by private equity investors, including KKR, Bain, Silver Lake, Apax and AlpInvest in 2006. Richard Clemmer was installed as CEO by KKR in 2009 as the company struggled under the weight of debt taken on before and after its leveraged buyout.

NXP said it would use proceeds from the IPO to repay part of its debt. It had debt of $5.2 billion and $8.1 billion worth of total assets as of April 4, for a debt-to-asset ratio of around 0.64.

By comparison, rival Analog Devices Inc (ADI.N) has debt of about $380 million, and assets of $3.928 billion, for a debt-to-asset ratio of around 0.1.

“This casts another negative pall on leveraged buyout offerings,” Gaskins said. He added that investors could be extra critical of pricing on the coming private equity-backed IPOs.

Three other big private equity-backed IPOs are in the U.S. pipeline: hospital operator HCA Inc filed for an IPO of up to $4.6 billion; Nielsen Holdings BV, known for viewership ratings that often determine the fate of TV shows, filed for an IPO of up to $1.75 billion; and Toys R Us filed for an IPO of up to $800 million.

Underwriters on NXP’s IPO were led by Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. NXP’s shares are expected to begin trading on the Nasdaq on Friday under the symbol “NXPI.”

(Reporting by Clare Baldwin, additional reporting by the Amsterdam newsroom; editing by Phil Berlowitz)