A year of IPOs may make Virgin Money a tricky sell - Bottom Line

Tim Wallace
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Virgin Money might have to begin with a relatively conservative valuation
What a boom year! What a great time for flotations! What a great stroke of luck Virgin Money has had, planning this listing of shares on the stock market.

Well, maybe not. In fact, Virgin Money might have to begin with a relatively conservative valuation.

Investors are burned out. Sure, there was massive pent-up supply of flotations, and upbeat market conditions mean private equity firms and early investors have been taking advantage to sell up at last.

But that does not mean there was enormous pent-up demand from investors, or at least not enough to match the flood of new shares.

Institutions have already picked locations for their funds which they are happy with. The new shares at the start of this boom might have shaken things up a bit and come up with some new opportunities.

But after a tide of new offers, any IPO now has to be something special – it has to give institutions a very good reason to sell a stock they like, for something untried.

Virgin Money has a lot of factors pointing in its direction.

It is profitable and wants to start paying dividends right away.

It is expanding very rapidly online, rather than relying on an old and expensive network of branches.

But there is a sudden flurry of competition, with banks such as Aldermore, TSB and One Savings listing. And in banking there is always the chance regulators could jump in and push up costs.

So if Virgin wants to get off to a strong start on the stock market, it might need to tempt buyers in with a great price.

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