GNC Completes Tortured Path To IPO

Shares of GNC Holdings Inc., a U.S. retailer of wellness and nutrition products, rose in their New York Stock Exchange debut after its IPO priced at midpoint of the proposed range, sister news service Reuters reported. GNC shares gained 4.7 percent, finishing their first day of trading on the New York Stock Exchange at $16.75 after pricing at $16 in the company’s third attempt at a public offering.

GNC Holdings Inc, a U.S. retailer of wellness and nutrition products, raised $360 million in its third attempt at an IPO, a market source said. GNC, which markets vitamins, herbal supplements and sports nutrition products, originally proposed the IPO in September after a failed acquisition by China’s Bright Food Group.

GNC and its stockholders sold 22.5 million shares for $16 each, the source said. They had planned to sell the stock for $15 to $17 per share. Apollo Global Management, GNC’s previous owner that also listed on the NYSE the same week, had tried to take GNC public twice before selling the store chain in 2007 to Ares Management LLC and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board.

Ares planned to sell 2.4 million shares in the IPO, while OTPP planned to sell 3 million shares. If underwriters exercise their overallotment option, Ares and OTPP’s combined voting power in GNC is expected to decrease by about a quarter to roughly 66 percent.

The company reported net income growth of 19 percent to $97 million in 2010. GNC’s earnings per share on a diluted basis grew 47 percent to 85 cents per share in 2010 and 35 percent to 58 cents per share in 2009.

Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan led underwriters on the IPO.

Alina Selyukh is a Reuters journalist in New York.