Doubts about permanent capital IPOs scotch Doughty Hanson

The future for permanent capital vehicle IPOs looks very uncertain following the cancellation of the €1bn issue for Doughty Hanson & Co Investments last week. Prior to launch, a considerable amount of time was spent looking at the structure of the deal and how it could be made more appealing to investors that were still smarting from losses on the US$5bn KKR Private Equity Investors IPO in May (see IFR Buyouts Europe issue.45 p.13).

The Doughty Hanson offer was led by Citigroup and Goldman Sachs and had a two-week roadshow. To support the deal, several banks with retail arms were appointed as co-leads: Calyon, EFG Bank, HVB Corporate & Markets, ING and Mediobanca.

A major concern for investors was that the two other deals had both traded down since listing. On both KKR and Apollo listing fees were paid out of the capital raised, ensuring that immediately after the IPO the NAV was below the offer price, and the stock traded down to reflect this. In order to avoid that, Doughty Hanson would have paid the listing fees, but it would have received options for doing this, which simply delays the cost.

As one investor asked the leads: “So the best outcome is I don’t lose money?” In a troubled IPO market that is not the impression that makes a deal.

Many institutions have also reconsidered their attitude to these deals. There is obvious appeal for retail and high-net worth individuals to get exposure to this sort of investment talent. However, an investment that needs to be held for three years to gain a suitable return does not fit with many institutions’ mandates, and it is not possible to gain sufficient retail participation to support a deal of €1bn.

Even if an institution is convinced of the desirability of the funds, the argument is that it might as well avoid the IPO and buy in the secondary market at a discount to NAV, to judge from the experience of AP Alternative Investments.

The lack of yield was seen as a significant problem on Doughty Hanson and bankers involved suggested any future deal would need to have a seed portfolio of assets to have any chance of success. But overall, it looks as if it will be difficult to bring further such deals until the KKR and Apollo vehicles have made investments and traded up into positive territory.