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Providence preps German home shopping channel HSE24 for sale, IPO: Reuters

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Buyout group Providence is preparing German home shopping TV network HSE24 for a potential sale or stock market flotation next year, several people close to matter said.

The private equity investor has asked Bank of America (BAC.N) to act as lead bank on the divestment, which may value the asset at about 1.5 billion euros ($1.74 billion) including debt, the people said.

Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE) and UBS (UBSG.S) have been mandated as additional global coordinators alongside bookrunners Citi (C.N) and BNP Paribas (BNPP.PA), they added.

Providence and the banks declined to comment.

A stock market listing could come as early as the second quarter of 2018, the sources said.

After a meager year for initial public offerings on the Frankfurt stock exchange in 2017, Germany is gearing up for a bumper IPO year in 2018.

Siemens (SIEGn.DE) is preparing its Healthineers unit for a flotation and Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE) its asset management arm. Separately, vehicle components suppliers Knorr Bremse and Vibracoustic, plus science publisher Springer Nature are planning to go public in 2018.

This year’s low turn out in IPOs was mainly due to a lack of readiness rather than a lack of investor appetite at a time of rising share prices, investment bankers said.

“Bankers are now pushing companies to list fast, fearing a correction in stock markets could close the window of opportunity,” one of the people said.

Two of the London Stock Exchange’s (LSE.L) biggest floats planned for this year were abandoned last week after they failed to attract sufficient interest from investors.

Providence has not yet made a final decision on whether to sell or float the business and will first test the appetite of potential acquirers of the company, the people said, adding that private equity firms usually favor an outright sale to an IPO.

HSE24, founded in 1995, competes with companies such as QVC, part of John Malone’s Liberty Interactive (QVCA.O), which is expected to examine the asset, although it remains unclear if antitrust regulators would allow such a deal, the sources said.

Liberty Interactive has already been an active consolidator and in July bought the remaining 62 percent of peer HSN (HSNI.O) it did not already own in a deal that values the TV shopping network at $2.1 billion.

Other private equity groups are also expected to bid for HSE24 in the planned auction, the sources said.

An 85 percent stake in HSE – which markets more than 20,000 goods to customers each year in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy and Russia and last year posted sales of 754 million euros, was sold to Providence for 650 million euros in 2012.
Earlier this year, HSE24 repriced some of its roughly 500 million euros in debt.