Wizz Air revs its engines for a London float

  • @lucytobin

Wizz Air, eastern Europe's biggest budget airline, has appointed a trio of big City names to manage a flotation which could value the carrier at around £800m.

It joins the ranks of major firms choosing London for an initial public offering, after insurance company Partnership, builder Crest Nicholson, insurer Esure and Countrywide estate agency floated on the Stock Exchange this year.

Wizz Air's move would see it join airlines including its rivals easyJet and Ryanair, both of whom are listed in London, as well as so-called legacy airline carriers such as IAG, the owner of British Airways and Iberia, regional airline Flybe and the African budget carrier backed by easyJet's founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, FastJet.

Wizz air, which first flew in 2004 and uses Luton as its UK base, has appointed Barclays, Citigroup and JPMorgan to float, potentially in the next few months. If so, its IPO could come at a similar time to Royal Mail's expected float this autumn, and vodka maker Stock Spirits, which has also picked London to list, at a time when global investors are flocking back.

Others thought to be planning a listing include estate agency chain Foxtons and Merlin Entertainments, which owns Thorpe Park and Alton Towers.

Wizz Air, based in Hungary, has a fleet of more than 40 Airbus planes, flying more than 250 routes in Europe including from Glasgow, Luton and Liverpool.

The carrier is attempting to double its traffic by 2020 to 25 million passengers a year.

The airline is currently backed by institutions including DNV, a German transport-focused bank.