Two Spanish firms prepare stock debut as economy improves

Wednesday 02 April 2014 11.56
NCT operator, Spain's Applus+ set for stock market debut
NCT operator, Spain's Applus+ set for stock market debut

Two Spanish companies said they are preparing to launch on the stock market, the first public offerings since 2011, adding to signs the economy is tentatively recovering from a deep recession.
              
Corporate testing and inspection company Applus+, which operates the NCT car testing service in Ireland, said it aims to raise at least €300m in its debut share sale.
              
Online travel reservations firm eDreams Odigeo is also selling €370m of shares, including €50m in new shares.
              
Spain, which came close to requesting an international rescue in 2012, is slowly emerging from a long recession and professional investors have gained confidence in Spanish assets, despite stubbornly high unemployment.

However, new figures today showed that the number of jobless in Spain fell in March for the second month in a row and the workforce grew. 

Applus+, which is controlled by private equity firm Carlyle, said it will use the money mainly to pay off debt and to fund further expansion.

It did not specify how much total proceeds of the sale were likely to be. A source told Reuters last month that the company is targeting a valuation of approximately €2.2 billion. The company has financial debts with banks of about €900m.
              
Applus+ provides services for the energy, infrastructure and automotive sectors to manage risk, quality and safety. It reported revenue of €1.6 billion and gross operating profit of €200m for 2013 and employed 19,000 staff.

Meanwhile, eDreams Odigeo could be valued at up to €1.075 billion after sources said it had narrowed its price range to €10-10.25.
              
In both cases shares are being sold to institutional investors. Retail investor confidence was severely damaged by the IPO of Bankia in 2011, which was subsequently nationalised. Hundreds of thousands of ordinary Spaniards who bought shares lost money.
              
The government is trying to get the indebted economy back on track after narrowly avoiding an international rescue in 2012.
              
Spain's economy grew on a quarterly basis in the second half of 2013, the first time in more than two years and the government is expecting growth of 1% this year after it shrank 1.2% last year.