Wizz Air leads new rush for flotation in London

Experts predict a flurry of pre-election initial public offerings

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The Independent Online

Flotation fever gripped the City again today as budget airline Wizz Air led a new list of companies looking to join the London Stock Exchange.

Experts predicted a flurry of pre-election, initial public offerings, with the low-cost carrier being joined by PVC windows maker Eurocell and contractor Lakeside in announcing plans to go public.  

Wizz Air blamed “market volatility in the airline sector” when it pulled its flotation last year, but said today it now plans to raise €150 million  (£113 million) from new investors before the end of March. The Hungary-based company flies to 106 destinations on 350 routes.

Boss József Váradi said: “Wizz Air represents an attractive opportunity to invest in the expected growth in the central and eastern European air-travel markets where a combination of deregulation, above average GDP growth, a growing middle class and supportive migration trends in an area with a large population is expected to drive higher propensity to air travel.”

Lakeside and private equity-backed Eurocell said they also plan to list in London with the latter appointing Bob Lawson as its new chairman.

Lawson, who also chairs Barratt Developments and Genus, said: “I have been very impressed by the quality of Eurocell’s business and management team, and the foundation this provides for further growth as a public company.”

Elsewhere, tool-hire group HSS priced its previously announced flotation at the bottom of its range, valuing the business at £325 million. The company, which intends to pay down debt, had originally set a price of between 210p and 262p.

Chris White, head of UK Equities at Premier Asset Management, said: “The IPO market feels tired, but whilst markets remain buoyant companies that want to float will try and take advantage of investor confidence. A number of high-profile IPOs still trade at discounts and this is not helpful to sentiment, so investors will be price sensitive. The latest company that has come to the market, tool and equipment hire company HSS Hire Group, has been a damp squib.”