EasyJet sets float date despite market turmoil to

Easyjet, the no-frills airline fronted by the high-profile entrepreneur Stelios Haji-Ioannou, yesterday announced plans for a November flotation, but cautioned that it would not proceed if market conditions were too unfavourable.

Easyjet, the no-frills airline fronted by the high-profile entrepreneur Stelios Haji-Ioannou, yesterday announced plans for a November flotation, but cautioned that it would not proceed if market conditions were too unfavourable.

EasyJet said it would offer 63 million ordinary shares, or 25 per cent of its enlarged equity, to institutional investors. The existing shareholders, who will see their holdings diluted in the flotation, do not plan to sell any shares. Pricing and allocations will be announced on 14 November and conditional dealings will begin the following day.

Analysts have valued the company at about £500m, although unnamed sources close to easyJet have been quoted as saying that the group is seeking a value of up to $1bn (£690m).

The carrier is intending to proceed with the sale, despite the recent turmoil in the markets, which has forced more than a dozen European companies to abandon their share offerings in the last two weeks.

Toby Nicol, a spokesman for easyJet said: "By putting out the statement [yesterday], we are showing that we have got sufficient faith in the current business environment." But he added: "If we cannot get full value for the airline or if the market environment goes horribly against us, we won't float."

One analyst said: "There are obviously some jitters in the markets at the moment. But easyJet has also got some specific issues which are bound to make it an interesting float."

He said the success of the IPO would largely depend on how much clout Mr Haji-Ioannou has among institutions, given the close relationship between his personal image and that of the airline. The analyst added that easyJet needs the funds from a flotation to pay for the 32 Boeing 737-700s which it has ordered to expand its 18-plane fleet.

Separately yesterday, easyJet reported a full-year pre-tax profit of £22m on turnover of £263m. The figures were in line with analysts' expectations.

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