Dash to market as firms follow Saga to list in London

Michael Bow
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LONDON’S stock market stampede hit full speed yesterday as a clutch of Britain’s best known companies announced their intention to float, despite concerns over saturation in the new issues market.

Property website Zoopla and high street store B&M Retail both unveiled blockbuster floats, while over-50s insurance and holiday provider Saga priced its initial public offering at 185p a share, in a move set to give around 200,000 customers a stake in the iconic business.

A UK pension consultancy and a low cost Hungarian airline – River & Mercantile and Wizz Air – also unveiled plans to float, in the busiest day for London’s stock market so far this year.

But the mood was mixed in the new issues market after retailer Fat Face confirmed it was cancelling plans to list, while foreign exchange company Travelex was also understood to have gone cold on a listing yesterday in favour of pursuing a trade sale.

The rush of new listings came in the wake of figures showing that London has clocked up 47 flotations so far this year, according to data from Thomson Reuters, with £7bn raised in total – the highest level since 2007, according to separate figures from Dealogic.

Saga last night priced its float at the low end of its 185p to 205p range. It will raise £550m in total.

People close to the company said it was taking a “disciplined” approach to the offer to ensure a healthy aftermarket and protect retail investors from seeing the price of their shares slide.

Saga’s private equity backers will also break convention and not sell any shares in the offering.

The float gives Saga a value of about £2.7bn, which includes £700m of debt.

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