Edwards board meets to try to salvage planned flotation

THE LISTING plans of British vacuum technology group Edwards were in danger of collapse last night, over fears a lack of subscription and a low pricing could put off its private equity backers from selling out now.

The board held an eleventh hour meeting last night to discuss the quality of investors signed up for the initial public offering (IPO), and to hold lengthy talks with bankers.

Investors had been guided by the bankers to buy shares at the bottom end of expectations before a 3pm deadline, as joint bookrunners UBS, Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan Cazenove and Morgan Stanley scrambled to cover the firm’s order book.

The firm had been looking to price its IPO at between 200p and 270p per share, selling 35 per cent of the firm.

Yet at 200p per share, Edwards’ private equity backers – CCMP Capital and Unitas Capital – will raise just £356m, giving the firm a market capitalisation of about £1bn.

The firm had been valued at £1.5bn last year, whilst CCMP bought into the firm in a deal valued at £460m in 2007 – with an agreement to pay a further £45m should it successfully develop the business and subsequently exit its investment.