The owners of Wiggle, the online bicycle specialist, have appointed the investment bank UBS as book runner for a potential flotation next year.
But in a dual track process, Isis Equity Partners is also pushing ahead with a sale of Wiggle for up to £200m, with second-round bids due on 28 November. Only a few private equity firms – including the owner of the fashion chain Fat Face Bridgepoint and Sweden's EQT – are through to the second-round. EQT is backed by the Wallenberg family, the Swedish bankers and industrialists.
Wiggle, whose chairman is Andy Bond, the former chief executive of Asda, serves customers in 80 countries and recorded a 44 per cent rise in pre-tax profits to £10.2m for the year to 31 January. Other private equity firms that submitted first-round bids for Wiggle, including Advent and 3i, have now dropped out. Advisers at Rothschild are running the sale process.
Despite the volatile stock market conditions, Isis remains committed to a dual track process for Wiggle, which sells a plethora of products from racing bikes to triathlon clothing.
Wiggle, which grew sales by 55 per cent to £86m over the year to January, has benefited from the growing trend of Mamils (middle-aged man in lycra) taking to the roads at the weekend.
UBS was chosen from a parade of half a dozen investment banks to run Wiggle's flotation. The first IPO meeting is imminent. Isis acquired its majority shareholding in Wiggle for £12m in 2006. All parties declined to comment.