SES completes IPO

Philippe Catteau, CEO of Store Electronic Systems (SES), the French electronic price-tag manufacturer, was delighted to see his firm listed on Friday, given the time it had taken to prepare for the moment.

The company raised €23.1m of new money for expansion, while shareholders including LBO France and management sold stock worth a total of a further €58.8m.

The IPO was priced at €15.50, comfortably within the €14.28 to €16.60 indicative range, for total proceeds of €81.9m. The free float is around 56%. SG was sole bookrunner. Investors were buying into what is a very strong growth story, both in France and outside, and relatively little competition.

“We thought that the deal went very well, and were very happy to be pricing just above the middle of the price range,” said Catteau. “We believe the market is moving strongly now.”

The one major listed comparable is Swedish rival Pricer, whose shares rose more than 10% the day before SES was priced on news that it had secured a Carrefour contract in France.

Catteau said that the move would have little impact on his firm, as the two operated with very different strategies, with SES preferring higher-margin business rather than simply volume. Pricer is loss-making while SES is profitable.

Elsewhere, bankers have been pitching for the IPO of Neuf Cegetel, an alternative telecoms operator.

The company was formed from the merger of neuf telecom and Cegetel in summer 2005 and is hoping to float in the first half of the year, according to bankers.

Vivendi subsidiary SFR owns a 28% stake, as does Groupe Louis Dreyfus. The remainder is held by a group of 10 financial investors and industrial partners. The company recorded turnover of €2.6bn in 2004, with Ebitda of €229m.