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Chemicals distribution group Azelis considers 2018 IPO -sources

MADRID/FRANKFURT, Dec 11 (Reuters) - Belgium-based chemicals distribution group Azelis is considering a 2018 stock market listing as its private equity owner seeks to benefit from high sector valuations, sources close to the matter said.

Buyout group Apax, which bought Azelis from 3i in early 2015, could seek a valuation of more than 1.3 billion euros ($1.5 billion) through the possible IPO, they added.

"Apax is preparing Azelis for a 2018 float, most likely in Brussels," an equity capital markets banker familiar with the matter said.

Apax declined to comment.

Azelis is expected to post earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization of 122 million euros this year.

Most listed peers trade at a multiple of more than 11 times their expected core earnings.

Despite years of consolidation, the chemicals distribution market is still fragmented -- market leader Brenntag commands a market share of less than 6 percent -- while distribution outsourcing by large chemicals makers offers continuing growth opportunities alongside non-core activities such as mixing, storage and quality checks.

Brenntag, Univar and Nexeo are the three largest players in the 165 billion euro global chemicals distribution market.

Azelis is No.3 in Europe, trailing Brenntag and Univar, but ahead of IMCD, which listed on the Euronext Amsterdam in 2014.

Since Apax's Azelis buyout the company has acquired Koda Distribution to expand in the American market, taking on $675 million of loans to finance the deal.

Azelis has 1,700 staff worldwide and a presence in more 40 countries.

Separately on Monday, final terms emerged on a refinancing of some of Azelis' debt, banking sources said. ($1 = 0.8474 euros) (Additional reporting by Dasha Afanasieva, Claire Ruckin and Ludwig Burger; Editing by Douglas Busvine and David Goodman)