McBride raises pounds 154m in stock market debut

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The flotation of McBride, Europe's biggest producer of own-label detergents and personal care products, will bring a multi-million-pound windfall to four of the group's directors, including the chairman of Grand Metropolitan, Lord Sheppard.

The public offer was priced yesterday at 188p a share, valuing the group at pounds 329m and four directors' shareholdings at pounds 6.32m. Lord Sheppard, who has chaired McBride since its pounds 275m buyout from BP in May 1993, will see his holding valued at pounds 1.72m when dealings begin today. The biggest winner will be Mike Handley, the group's chief executive who led the buyout; his stake will be valued at pounds 3.53m, before taking account of a further 289,000 options.

Mr Handley will be sitting on a substantial profit compared with his original investment of around pounds 200,000.

Announcing its first deal since the merger with Swiss Bank Corporation, SBC Warburg said it judged the offering a success in the light of the tribulations of the market over the past two weeks. Despite closing on Tuesday, just hours before the announcment of the Conservative leadership ballot, the institutional offer was twice over-subscribed, although only two-thirds of the shares allocated to the public were taken up. Of the 28.9 million shares in the retail offer, only 19.4 million were applied for, meaning that all applications will be satisfied in full.

A Warburg spokesman said: "Considering what's happened over the last two weeks on the political front, we're extremely pleased. John Major's announcement certainly slowed down the momentum in the first week of book- building, but it built up once the market settled down last week."

He said they had been looking for a price in the 185p to 195p range. "In the circumstances, I think 188p is a pretty fair price."

The offer was also seen as proving the success of selling new issues through the book-building process - which sets the price based on indicative bids from institutional buyers - rather than by traditional underwriting. It will raise pounds 154m for the company, with a further pounds 54.9m for existing shareholders, of which the biggest are Lehman Brothers and Legal and General. The company will use pounds 111m of the proceeds to redeem preference shares and pounds 43m to reduce debt.