A few green shoots show their heads in the City

Marc Sidwell
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WHISPER it quietly, but are there finally signs that, when it comes to initial public offerings, the City is limping back to life? Not everyone has been entirely welcoming of the growing trend of Russian firms looking to IPO over here, but the news of Sberbank’s $5bn offering was surely a welcome green shoot in these far-from-springlike times. It could start to seem like a trend, especially in the wake of recent news about healthcare provider MDMG’s listing plans (apparently looking to raise $150m), and those of mobile phone operator Megafon (potentially $4bn) and lender Promsyazbank (around $1bn), both also announced to be moving closer this month.

The continued adventures of RBS’s unloading of Direct Line also suggest that things are moving again, even if the IPO plans came with mixed messages on valuation – from more than £3bn to as low as £1.5bn – and despite the possibility of it all ending in a private equity swoop remaining open.

Almost all of these deals have been on the cards and just waiting for market conditions to improve, however briefly. So perhaps thanks should be going to Mario Draghi and Ben Bernanke for warming things up a little. But it is also hopefully a recognition that London remains a vital centre for capital raising. As the season turns over a new leaf, so perhaps is the IPO market.