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UK ready meals maker Bakkavor gets IPO away after price cut

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11/10/2017 | 01:28pm CET

Bakkavor , a ready meals supplier to major food retailers in Britain, has gone ahead with its stockmarket flotation just a week on from shelving the deal, after cutting the price to value itself at 1 billion pounds ($1.3 billion).

The company, which counts supermarkets Marks & Spencer (>> Marks & Spencer Group), Waitrose and Tesco (>> Tesco) as major customers, said on Friday it had sold the shares on offer for 180 pence each.

That compares with the 195 pence to 235 pence range at which its bankers had initially marketed the stock to investors before they took the decision to pull the initial public offer.

"It's very, very unusual to see this happen," said an investment banker, who was not involved in the Bakkavor float. "It shows that at a lower price they could have got it done (at the first attempt)."

Bakkavor's Nov. 3 announcement that it had abandoned its listing was seen as a blow for Britain's IPO market, coming on the same day that TV and telecoms masts firm Arqiva [IPO-ARGL.L] also pulled its plans to go public.

Bakkavor blamed "volatility in the IPO market" on Nov. 3 when it shelved the listing. It had said that although it had "received sufficient institutional demand to cover the offering", pushing ahead "would not be in the best interests of the company, or its shareholders".

A source familiar with Bakkavor's plans said the company had been worried the share price would fall when trading started.

However, in the last week it was approached by investors, including new potential shareholders, that were prepared to buy the stock at a lower price, the source added.

"It is particularly pleasing that our initial register has such a strong presence of well-respected long-term investors," Bakkavor chairman Simon Burke said.

Shares are expected to start trading on Nov. 16 and represent about 25 percent of the business, which is the UK's largest producer of hummus.

The firm gets 86 million pounds from the sale of new shares. Its pre-float owners, Icelandic brothers Agust and Lydur Gudmundsson and U.S. hedge fund Baupost, are raising a further 158 million pounds from selling some of their shares.

A group of seven advisers worked on the float: HSBC (>> HSBC Holdings), Morgan Stanley (>> Morgan Stanley), Barclays (>> Barclays), Citigroup (>> Citigroup), Peel Hunt, Rabobank and Rothschild.

ICELANDIC COD ROE EXPORTER

Bakkavor started as a cod roe manufacturer and exporter before the Gudmundsson brothers embarked on a debt-driven expansion, borrowings that saw it run into trouble following Iceland's financial crisis.

It generated revenues of almost 1.8 billion pounds and a pretax profit of 63.1 million pounds last year.

Agust remains the firm's chief executive. Lydur, who is a director, relinquished the role of chairman before the float to meet British corporate governance guidelines that require the role to be filled by an independent candidate.

Lydur served three weeks of community work after he was found in 2014 to have broken Icelandic company law during the 2008 crisis while he was chairman of Exista, an investment firm that held a stake in Kaupthing, the failed bank.

($1 = 0.7604 pounds)

(Reporting by Emma Rumney and Ben MartinEditing by Greg Mahlich)

By Ben Martin and Emma Rumney

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