PAI Partners Plans $1 Billion Chr.Hansen IPO

LONDON (Reuters) – French private equity firm PAI Partners is likely to pick Credit Suisse, J.P.Morgan and Morgan Stanley to handle Chr.Hansen’s $1 billion initial public offering, sources familiar with the matter said.

PAI has yet to make a final call, but a pre-marketing of the Danish bioscience company could kick start as early as next month, after the Easter holiday, one source said.

“We’re looking at exit opportunities but no decision has been taken,” said Frederic Stevenin, a partner at PAI.

“IPO is something we’re thinking of,” he added, saying he was talking to several banks.

Apart from Credit Suisse (CSGN.VX), J.P. Morgan (JPM.N) and Morgan Stanley (MS.N), a number of local banks could also join the deal, the sources said.

Europe’s IPO market has recently shown signs of life. February was marked by a slew of cancellations, including travel bookings firm Travelport’s $1.8 billion London listing plan, but March has been an active month.

Promethean World (PRWP.L), African Barrick Gold (ABGL.L), Metric Property (METP.L), CPP Group (CPPG.L) and Kabel Deutschland (KDG) (KD8Gn.DE) raised a combined $2.7 billion in March, a deal volume up 50 percent from last month’s $1.8 billion.

Improving sentiment prompted Spanish firm Amadeus to announce a 910 million euro ($1.23 billion) Madrid listing on Tuesday.

Investors are far from easy to convince, however. Top German cable network operator KDG’s deal was priced near the bottom of an indicated range, and its shares are currently trading just above their offer price of 22 euros. 

PAI acquired the business operating under the Chr.Hansen name in 2005 and a source had said in November it could be valued at about 2 billion euros.

Chr.Hansen’s earnings before tax, interests, depreciation and amortisation for the year to the end of August grew 12 percent to 150 million euros. The debt-to-EBITDA ratio was reduced to 5.3 times from 6.1 times a year ago. ($1=.7417 Euro)

By Daisy Ku and Julien Ponthus
(Additional reporting by Victoria Howley; editing by Simon Jessop)