Swedish buyout group EQT announced its intention to seek a stock market listing in Stockholm in a rare recent move from a private equity company to float its shares.
EQT, which was founded by the Wallenberg family of industrialists in 1994 and has grown to become one of Europe’s biggest private equity groups, is seeking to sell about a fifth of its shares in a listing that could value it at about €4bn.
At least €500m in fresh equity will be raised while existing shareholders — Investor, the Wallenberg investment vehicle, owns 23 per cent while EQT’s partners own the rest — will sell down their stakes pro-rata.
“Over the last 25 years, EQT has grown from a small Swedish buyout firm to a global and diversified investment firm . . . The contemplated IPO is an important step on our journey to continually improve what we do, as we work towards our visions of becoming the most reputable investor and owner,” said Conni Jonsson, chairman and founder of EQT.
EQT would become the first private equity company to list for several years after a difficult experience for those few that have already floated.
In an interview with the Financial Times this year, EQT chief executive Christian Sinding said that any listing would take place ahead of a looming bear market for shares next year and would give the firm “more power and more confidence” in case debt markets froze up.
Some of the big names in private equity to have listed complain that markets fail to understand buyout groups.
Leon Black, co-founder of listed Apollo, said last February: “When we went public half the people said ‘you’ve got to be crazy not to go public’ and the other half said ‘regulation, press, who needs it?’ They were all correct. We like to say that we have built a unique platform . . . and the market doesn’t get it.”
EQT had €40bn of assets under management as of the end of June and said they had increased by 23 per cent a year since its founding. It added that it expected assets under management for the private equity industry as a whole to increase by 10 per cent a year in the future, compared with 15 per cent growth in 2012-16.
In the first six months of 2019, EQT said its revenues rose by two-thirds from a year earlier to €295m, while underlying net profit more than doubled to €110m.
Johan Forsell, Investor’s chief executive, backed the planned IPO: “A listing will provide further opportunities for EQT to grow and develop its successful business model built on industrial value creation. We will remain a long-term owner as we see attractive return potential.”
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