London set for surge of IPO activity

THE CITY is gearing up for a return of initial public offering (IPO) activity as a torrent of companies prepare to take the plunge into shareholder ownership, according to Thomson Reuters data. <br /><br />Underscoring the dramatic recovery being staged on equity markets, five IPOs &ndash; where firms listed on stock markets &ndash; are now on the books for the third quarter of this year alone. <br /><br />Gambling website Betfair has a listing on the main London Stock Exchange (LSE) planned for this quarter, expected to raise a giant &pound;1.5bn. Pets At Home, the shopping website, is expected to raise around &pound;700m with an LSE listing this quarter. <br /><br />Property funds London Residential and Braemar UK Agricultural Land are to launch on the smaller AIM market and estate agent group Winkworth is to list shares this quarter.<br /><br />And high street giant fashion retailer New Look, which is 60 per cent owned by private equity firms Permira and Apax, is gearing up a roughly &pound;1.7bn market debut.<br /><br />IPO activity dried up almost entirely in the credit crunch, as a lack of liquidity on markets and low company valuations deterred would-be market entrants. But private equity firms in particular are now carrying out IPOs of firms they own, hoping the increasingly liquid markets will provide a profitable investment exit.