(Bloomberg) -- Bridgepoint Group’s share sale in London valued the firm at 2.9 billion pounds ($3.9 billion) as demand for the rare private equity listing lifted its initial public offering price to the top of the indicated range.
The company priced its shares at 350 pence each prior to the start of trading on Wednesday, according to a statement. Bridgepoint raised 300 million pounds selling new stock, while its backers offloaded existing shares worth 489 million pounds, the company said.
Investor appetite for the biggest listing of a U.K. buyout firm in decades has been strong, after Bridgepoint last week estimated a share price range of 300 pence to 350 pence. Unlike in the U.S., where firms like Blackstone Group Inc. and KKR & Co. went public more than a decade ago, British buyout groups have tended to remain small private partnerships still dominated by their founders or immediate successors.
Bridgepoint is the latest private equity company to look to public markets in recent weeks. Antin Infrastructure Partners is considering a listing and TPG is weighing a potential IPO or merger with a special purpose acquisition company, people with knowledge of the matter have said. Closely held firms have been grappling with how to provide exits for founders, while also ensuring rising stars can monetize their stakes.
The share sale will help Bridgepoint fund growth plans, enhance its standing “as a trusted counterparty,” fuel shareholder returns and repay debt, it said last week. Bridgepoint, which was spun out of Royal Bank of Scotland Group in 2000, manages about 27 billion euros ($32 billion) of assets.
Last month the company took a minority stake in Itsu, the Asia-inspired food company, and in May teamed up with Astorg to buy Irish financial software company Fenergo. It also owns stakes in Burger King franchises in the U.K.
The two largest London-listed private equity companies firms, 3i Group Plc and Intermediate Capital Group Plc, both went public in 1994. Listed peers in Europe include EQT AB, the largest buyout firm in the Nordic region, Switzerland’s Partners Group Holding AG and France’s Eurazeo SE.
Middle market firms like Bridgepoint have also faced increasing pressure to diversify their offerings as they face greater competition that’s pushing up the cost of acquiring assets and pressuring returns. The buyout firm sold an undisclosed minority stake to what was then Dyal Capital Partners in 2018.
Buyout firms are splurging billions on takeovers of publicly traded British targets, playing catch-up after avoiding the U.K. in recent years due to harsh Covid lockdowns, and supply chain and trade flow fears sparked by uncertainties about how Brexit would impact the country’s economy.
If additional stock is offered to cover an over-allotment option, Bridgepoint’s IPO could raise as much as 907 million pounds. Fidelity International, T. Rowe Price Group Inc. and Mawer Investment Management took up 300 million pounds, or a third of the total offering.
(Updates to add use of proceeds in fifth paragraph.)
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