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Buyout Giant CVC Seeks €1.25 Billion in Long-Awaited IPO

The firm has been working on a listing since at least 2022, with previous attempts buffeted by volatile markets.
German retail beauty brand Douglas. Shutterstock.
CVC-backed German perfume retailer Douglas AG suffered a disappointing stock market debut in March. (Shutterstock)

CVC Capital Partners revived plans for an initial public offering in Amsterdam, seeking to raise at least €1.25 billion ($1.3 billion) with its investors in a listing that potentially paves the way for other private equity firms to go public.

The company aims to raise €250 million by selling new shares, while existing holders also plan to sell stock, the firm said in a statement Monday. None of the firm’s active employees are selling in the IPO, according to the statement.

CVC has been working on a listing since at least 2022, with previous attempts buffeted by volatile markets. While a rebound in European IPOs is adding to chances of a successful market debut now, the announcement comes after Iran’s missile attack on Israel that’s raising concern of an escalation in Mideast hostilities.

“This is very much a long-term structural decision for the business and we expect the IPO to take place in the coming weeks, obviously subject to market conditions, and we’re monitoring events in the Middle East very very closely,” Rob Lucas, chief executive of CVC, said in an interview.

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“We’ve been looking at this for a very long time clearly and we have been very cautious in terms of how we’ve approached it,” he said. Sentiment from investors over the last couple of months has been “so positive and so strong” that it has given CVC the confidence to move forward, he added.

CVC, one of Europe’s best-known buyout firms, manages about €186 billion of assets and owns stakes in companies including Swiss watchmaker Breitling and Lipton Teas and Infusions, according to its website.

The firm is targeting a valuation of around €13 billion to €15 billion, Bloomberg News reported Sunday, citing people familiar with the matter.

A listing of CVC, which was valued at about $15 billion when it sold a minority stake to Blue Owl Capital Inc. in 2021, will test investor sentiment toward alternative asset managers at a key moment for the industry. It will also mark a revival for listings in Amsterdam, which lost its position as one of Europe’s busiest listing venues after a blowout year in 2021.

Private equity firms have seen the path to exiting investments heavily constrained in recent years, with inflation, high interest rates and elevated volatility weighing on dealmaking. A slowdown in returns has also made it harder for private equity firms to raise new funds.

Still, CVC has had more success than its peers in this regard. It raised €26 billion last year for the world’s biggest-ever buyout fund and has been diversifying its business into new areas including infrastructure and so-called secondaries, or existing portfolios of private equity fund holdings.

“The raising of Fund IX in record time at the most difficult point in the market and to create the largest private equity fund ever raised has really hugely underpinned the sentiment that there is out there at the moment,” Lucas said.

Shareholders that are selling in the IPO include Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC Pte, Kuwait Investment Authority, a wealth fund run by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority and certain management shareholders. Blue Owl plans to invest in as much as 10 percent of the offering, according to the statement, increasing its stake.

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CVC plans to use IPO proceeds to fuel growth, including scaling the next generation of its funds, pursuing acquisitions and funding a part of the price tag for its acquisition of a majority stake in DIF Capital Partners, announced in September.

The offering also may encourage other private asset managers to go public. General Atlantic, the investment firm whose bets have included Facebook Inc. and Airbnb Inc., confidentially filed for an IPO, while private credit firm HPS Investment Partners did the same more than a year ago, Bloomberg News has reported.

While investor appetite for listings is improving, the rebound in Europe has been uneven. Galderma Group AG, a skincare company backed by CVC’s private equity rival EQT AB, has soared 20 percent above its offer price, and Spanish beauty and fragrance group Puig Brands SA said April 8 it would press ahead with an IPO.

CVC-backed German perfume retailer Douglas AG suffered a more disappointing stock market debut, however, having slipped 24 percent since its March listing. And Spain’s Bergé y Compañía on April 5 scrapped plans to float its Astara unit.

Stock-market gains for listed European peers such as Bridgepoint Group Plc, Partners Group Holding AG and EQT are also boosting sentiment around a CVC listing.

By Swetha Gopinath and Dinesh Nair

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