Private equity group CVC revives listing plans

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One of Europe’s biggest buyout groups, CVC Capital Partners, has revived plans for a multibillion-euro stock market listing that could come before the end of the year, according to people familiar with the matter.

The secretive firm, which owns the maker of PG Tips tea and has made major bets on rugby and Formula One, pushed back a planned listing last year as markets plummeted following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

But a rebound in markets and the firm’s raising of a record €26bn buyout fund last month have made conditions look more favourable, the people said. However, they cautioned that no final decision has been taken and the plan could still change.

An IPO would mark a crucial test of investors’ confidence in the private equity industry given that the era of ultra-low interest rates that propelled its rise has ended. CVC was valued at about €15bn when it agreed to sell a minority stake to Blue Owl’s Dyal Capital unit in 2021.

Private equity groups Bridgepoint, TPG and Antin Infrastructure Partners all went public in recent years during the industry’s boom, when cheap debt and lofty valuations for portfolio companies helped drive its revenues higher. But as rates rise and economic growth slows, shares in some of CVC’s listed rivals have fallen.

Going public is central to CVC’s ambitions to expand beyond its roots as a pioneer of highly leveraged corporate takeovers in Europe to become a large financial institution managing a wider range of assets.

Many of its Wall Street rivals, such as Blackstone and Apollo, now oversee sprawling empires where leveraged buyouts are not always their largest business.

Led by managing partner Rob Lucas, CVC has 25 offices around the world and manages €140bn in assets, according to its website. It has already expanded in private credit, and in 2021 acquired Glendower Capital, a secondaries business which buys stakes in other private equity funds and invests in deals where buyout groups sell companies to themselves.

CVC plans to use some of the money raised in an IPO to buy other asset management businesses, which could include an investment firm specialising in infrastructure, two people familiar with the matter said.

The Financial Times reported last year that CVC was planning to float 10 per cent of its business on the Amsterdam stock exchange.

CVC declined to comment.

Becoming a public company would mark a departure for the group, which has prized secrecy over its three-decade history despite having bought stakes in household names such as UK retailer Debenhams.

CVC has drawn up a plan to keep most or even all of a lucrative revenue stream, the 20 per cent share of profits on successful deals known as “carried interest”, in the hands of its employees even after it lists, the FT reported last year.

Under the plan, public market investors would buy in to a vehicle that instead receives the proceeds of its steady stream of management fee income. The raising of the $26bn buyout fund will give investors more certainty about future fee income.

The market for European listings has been subdued this year, with companies going public raising just €3.8bn in the first half, a 27 per cent drop from the same period a year ago, data from PwC shows. 

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