The Hut Group poised to launch $5.9 bln London listing, sources say

Credit: REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

By Abhinav Ramnarayan and Clara Denina

LONDON, Aug 26 (Reuters) - British e-commerce firm The Hut Group could launch an initial public offering (IPO) as early as this week in a deal that could value the company at up to 4.5 billion pounds ($5.9 billion), two sources with knowledge of the matter said.

In what would be a major boost for a slumbering European IPO market, the company could file its registration document with the London Stock Exchange LSE.L and a draft "intention to float" in coming days, the sources said.

The deal could be priced by mid-September and is likely to raise around 1 billion pounds through the sale of new and existing shares, they added.

The potential launch of the IPO was first reported by Sky News earlier on Wednesday.

A spokesman for The Hut Group declined to comment.

The launch of the IPO and a successful deal would help boost European listing volumes, which were at their lowest in eight years in the first half of 2020 as the COVID-19 crisis doused investor sentiment.

However, there has lately been a revival in new listings in the United States and in Asia, where Ant Group, Alibaba’s fintech arm and China’s dominant mobile payments firm, filed for a dual listing in Hong Kong and Shanghai on Tuesday which could raise as much as $30 billion to become the world’s largest IPO.

Bankers hope some deals could get done in Europe as well in September, a traditionally busy time for IPOs when investors return from summer holidays.

This would particularly be true for companies in hot sectors such as tech, healthcare, and defensive industries that generate steady returns such as utilities, bankers say.

The Hut Group is an online retailer of beauty and nutrition products, running websites for a number of different brands globally, hosting them on its own e-commerce platform.

The business has benefited from the COVID-19 crisis, as online sales have soared during lockdown and after, said one of the sources.

Barclays, Citi and JP Morgan are among the investment banks working on the deal, one of the sources said. Citi and JP Morgan declined to comment. Barclays did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

($1 = 0.7621 pounds)

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(Reporting by Abhinav Ramnarayan and Clara Denina Editing by David Holmes)

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