Private equity group in bank talks on listing Pets At Home

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The Independent Online

Bridgepoint, the private equity owner of the retail chain Pets At Home, has held preliminary talks with banks about listing the group. It is thought that any initial public offering (IPO) may take some time to finalise and despite meetings with three banks last week, Bridgepoint has yet to appoint any underwriters. The buyout specialist reckons it can raise as much as £700m from a sale, but the economic climate makes a floatation difficult.

Bridgepoint has been encouraged by the 7.5 per cent increase in sales at Pets At Home's 200-plus branches so far this year. Pre-tax profits are up 29 per cent to £40m. An eventual listing would confirm Pets At Home, which it acquired in 2004, as one of Bridgepoint's better deals. The debt has been refinanced four times in the last five years, netting £120m for investors.

Any IPO would delight private equity firms, which have toiled since the debt markets seized up last year. Many are stuck with investments they cannot offload, plugging funding that could be used to finance fresh buyouts.

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