Near A$1 bln Greenstone flotation to be Australia's biggest so far this year

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Pedestrians are reflected in the window of the Australian Securities Exchange next to a board displaying stock prices in central Sydney September 24, 2014.     REUTERS/David Gray
Pedestrians are reflected in the window of the Australian Securities Exchange next to a board displaying stock prices in central Sydney September 24, 2014. REUTERS/David Gray

South African-owned insurer Hollard Group plans to raise nearly A$1 billion ($783 million) by listing its Australian unit Greenstone Pty Ltd, in what is set to be Australia’s biggest flotation so far in 2015.

The listing will be closely watched by capital markets participants anxious to gauge the strength of demand for new issues, which has cooled after a record 2014 due to concerns about sluggish economies around the world.

About 58 percent of Greenstone, or 398 million shares, will be sold for between A$2.00 and A$2.50 per share, a prospectus filed with Australian authorities showed on Monday, confirming what a source working on the sale told Reuters.

At the top end of the range, Greenstone, which sells life and pet insurance, would have a stock market value of A$1.7 billion.

Hollard, a privately-held company with annual premium income of more than 15 billion rand ($1.3 billion), will retain a 31.7 percent holding in Greenstone, while founder and former chief executive Richard Enthoven will own about 10 percent upon the listing, slated for June 16.

The deal is likely to top the A$834 million raised by accounting software firm MYOB Ltd, which rose to a first-day premium on May 4 but has since weakened and closed at A$3.64 on Monday, against a flotation price of A$3.65.

Total money raised by Australian flotations or initial public offerings (IPOs) tumbled to $327 million in the first quarter of 2015 from $7.5 billion in the fourth quarter of last year. The average issue size fell to $30 million from $270 million over the same period, according to Thomson Reuters data.

“We are extremely excited about the IPO,” Nic Kohler, CEO of the Hollard Group in South Africa, said in a statement, adding he had no plans list the South African business.

Hollard said it would use money from the sale to support its business across the world. The Johannesburg-based company, along with Swiss Re and Hannover Re, underwrites Greenstone policies.

Goldman Sachs, Macquarie Capital, Citigroup, Deutsche Bank and JPMorgan are working on the issue and a final price will be determined on June 11 or 12.

($1 = 1.2778 Australian dollars)

($1 = 11.9390 rand)