THE INSURER that introduced the nation to Sheilas’ Wheels yesterday unveiled plans for a £1bn float, the latest sign that the appetite for big London IPOs is back.
Esure, which is also known for its adverts featuring the late film director Michael Winner, is preparing to sell up to 50 per cent of the company in an offering that will include an allocation for individual investors.
The company used yesterday’s announcement to reveal its trading profit rose 60 per cent last year to £138.1m. Sales rose from £497m to £593m over the same period.
“An IPO is a natural next step for a business of Esure’s scale and prospects,” said founder and chairman Peter Wood. “Our record of outperformance is down to our understanding of risk, our conservative underwriting approach and our speed in reacting to change.”
Although the company declined to state its intended IPO price, people with knowledge of the deal said they expected to raise around £500m from the float.
Wood, who owns around half of the company, could bank upwards of £150m by selling a third of his holding. Despite this the industry heavyweight who set up Direct Line in the 1980s and is already estimated to be worth £500m has promised to stay on as chairman for the long term.
The other major beneficiary will be private equity firm Tosca Penta, which is selling half its stake. In 2010 it joined with Wood to buy the 70 per cent Esure stake held by part-nationalised Lloyds Banking Group for just £200m.
Earlier this month, British housebuilder Crest Nicholson returned to the London stock market, while estate agent Countrywide Holdings is also marketing a planned London offering to investors.
The Esure float has attracted some of the City’s biggest firms as advisers look to position themselves as London’s previously moribund IPO market returns to life following a moribund 2012.
Deutsche Bank and JP Morgan are taking the lead by sharing duties as joint global co-ordinator and joint bookrunner.
Deutsche’s team is led by longstanding employees Tadhg Flood and Michael Lamb, as well as ex-Merrill Lynch banker Lorcan O’Shea who joined the business in 2010 after advising on the $5bn IPO of Dubai-based DP World.
JP Morgan’s staff include former chartered accountant Conor Hillery, Piers Davison and James Taylor, who has previously worked with Nat Rothschild’s troubled investment vehicle Bumi and Heritage Oil.
Canaccord Genuity’s Roger Lambert and Bruce Garrow are joined as co-lead managers by Numis Securities’ Oliver Hemsley, Charles Farquhar and Robert Bruce.
Legal advice is being provided by Slaughter and May, who have assigned partners John Papanichola and Jonathan Marks to work on the deal.
Meanwhile Jeffrey Oakes and John Satory of law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell are advising Esure on US law.