ISS pulls its £1.6bn float

DANISH outsourcing firm ISS pulled its listing plans at the eleventh hour in a dramatic turnaround last night.

The highly anticipated £1.55bn float in Copenhagen was to be one of Europe’s biggest this year and its cancellation is a major setback for ISS’s equity-holders. It is 55 per cent owned by EQT and 45 per cent by a Goldman Sachs private equity fund.

ISS blamed the cancellation on market volatility caused by “extraordinary external events”, including escalating violence in the Middle East and the ongoing disaster in Japan.

ISS chairman Ole Andersen told City A.M.: “Although we had the book and offer completely covered within the price range, we had to sit down at the end of the period and ask ourselves, is this really the start we would like to see for ISS as a listed company?”

However, some bankers queried the ambitious price range, which was cut from 100-135 Danish crowns to 100-110 Danish crowns on Wednesday.

“It just felt wrong, like it had tripped up out of the box,” one senior banker said. ISS was being advised by Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and HSBC.

ISS joins media group Lagardere as the latest firm to put listing plans on hold, after the French company postponed the sale of its 20 per cent stake in TV channel Canal + France earlier this week.

The turmoil has also caused speculation that Glencore International might cancel its $60bn listing, currently scheduled tentatively for the second quarter of this year. But sources close to the deal said that the Glencore float “is pretty uncontroversial” and unlikely to be derailed.