Optimism returns as flood of firms set for London flotations

GOLD mining giant Barrick Gold yesterday led a spirited charge by companies back into the London initial public offering (IPO) markets, after quavering demand from investors sank prospects for three new flotations in the space of just over a week.

Barrick announced plans to spin off its African assets into a new company, African Barrick Gold (ABG), to be listed on the London Stock Exchange. ABG is likely to contain around a tenth of the group’s assets, making it a likely contender to shoot immediately into the FTSE 100 with a market capitalisation of up to £2.4bn.

The news came as both insurance and fund management group Pearl and life assistance firm CPP said they would brave the turbulent markets with stock market listings later this year. CPP plans to raise around £30m from its initial public offering in March, valuing the group at around £450m.

And Pearl – which will rebrand the group under its Phoenix subsidiary name – also defied the creeping uncertainty by insisting it will go ahead with a flotation despite a public tussle with its bondholders.

The resurgence of appetite for the IPO markets came despite the high-profile failure of Travelport, retailer New Look and Merlin Entertainment to get floats worth a combined £5.6bn off the ground last week. P8, P11