Blackstone exits Gerresheimer

A significant window of opportunity opened last Wednesday as stock markets rallied, and the result was one of the busiest days so far this year in Europe’s ECM market with two accelerated bookbuilds completed. With the DAX up almost 1.8% on the day, Blackstone disposed of a 25% stake in glass and plastics manufacturer Gerresheimer, representing its residual holding following the company’s June 2007 IPO.

Through lead manager Credit Suisse, the private equity firm placed 7.8m shares, representing a hefty 200 days’ trading volume, for a total deal size of €241.8m.

Given the recent volatility, discounts for stock disposals have been growing wider and the final offer price of €31 was an 8% discount to Tuesday’s close. For a vendor like Blackstone an 8% discount appears reasonably high, particularly for an exit trade. But the level is in line with a recent clean-up trade by Candover Partners, which sold its 13.8% remaining stake in Wellstream, and significantly lower than the 16% discount that Merrill Lynch Private Equity took in its exit of a residual 6% in Debenhams.

While stock markets rallied through the bookbuild, Gerresheimer shares were particularly volatile, slumping some 10% intraday to €30.30. But the stock bounced back later in the day to close marginally up at €33.78.

The deal represents the first significant ABB or block trade out of Germany for a number of months. Last month saw small sell-downs in Smartrac and Wacker Chemie for €57m and €51.5m respectively, and prior to that, the last quick-fire deals came in November 2007 with a 1.7% sell-down in Q-Cells for €103m, and a €1.48bn capital increase for Continental.

“The discounts have certainly moved wider in recent months, but at least the latest block proves that there is some sort of investor appetite for selected companies,” said one banker away from the transaction.