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Philips Lighting shares rise as CEO hails 'historic' market debut

Philips' lighting division rose above its IPO (initial public offering) price at the Amsterdam stock exchange on Friday morning as the company's chief executive told CNBC that he was "very happy" with the market debut.

The offering was priced at 20 euros ($22.3) per share, but quickly rose to above 21.6 after the session opened before retreating back to 21.3 euros per share.

Philips reiterated on Thursday that it is offering a total number of 37.5 million shares – or 25 percent of the business.

Eric Rondolat, chief executive of Philips Lighting, told CNBC that it was an historic day. "Look at the investors, they believe in our story. With these new shareholders we're going to expand our leadership in LED lighting."

"We are on the verge of reinventing the lighting industry," he added.

Rondolat dismissed concerns of competition from low-cost producers in China and said that innovation within the firm would enable it to stay ahead of the competition.

"We are on the verge of reinventing the lighting industry. It will not be as it used to be since we are moving from LED to connected lighting, since we're moving from a product sale to a systems and service sales where we're going to be present on the full life cycle (of the product)," he added.

He said the company's strategy was to expand growth or the dividend for shareholders. "It's for both," he said, detailing more of the company's forthcoming strategy.

"Pricing is something we need to adapt to, but there are other elements to building a competitive advantage. We want to talk about the brand, we want to talk about the reach to the market and the connection we have for decades with our customers as well as our innovation power."

LED bulbs by Philips
Source: Philips Lighting
LED bulbs by Philips

The set price of 20 euros per share implied a market capitalization of 3 billion euros ($3.35 billion) for the Lighting division as a sole business. The division has an enterprise value of 4.5 billion euros including 1.5 billion euros of debt and debt-like items.

Philips had set an initial price range of 18.50-22.50 euros per share and said on Thursday that the offering was multiple times oversubscribed at the price per offered share "with strong demand from both institutional and retail investors."

Fittingly, the company's ticker symbol is "LIGHT." Unconditional trading of the company's shares can take place next Tuesday.

Chief Executive of Philips Frans van Houten said he was "pleased with the response of investors towards Philips Lighting and the successful pricing of the IPO."

"This strategic milestone will allow Royal Philips to focus on the fast‐growing health technology market. I am convinced that both Royal Philips and Philips Lighting will thrive as separate, listed companies, each focused on long‐term value‐creating growth opportunities."

Philips Lighting has a strong position in the LED market and in 2015 reported operating profit of 331 million euros on sales of 7.47 billion euros. The strong performance for LED lighting sales continued in the first quarter of 2016 too, growing 27 percent year-on-year.

On announcing the IPO earlier in May, Van Houten said it was an "historic" decision for Philips which began as a lighting company in 1891. The company believes splitting the lighting and health care businesses will enable both to expand more easily.

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