Demand 'Exceptionally High' in IPO, Swiss Firm Says

Swiss services group DKSH said demand for its IPO was "exceptionally high" as it priced its public offering at 48 Swiss francs ($52.6) a share - the uppermost point of its previously guided 46-48 francs share price range.

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The IPO values the company at more than 3 billion Swiss francs but analysts caution that the actual success of the public offering will not be determined until the shares have performed well in the secondary market over the next few weeks.

Calling the IPO a "landmark transaction", Christian Katz, the CEO of the Swiss stock exchange SIX told that it may also lead to increased IPO activity in Switzerland this year.

"I believe that there is enough investor interest and liquidity for attractive high quality companies to come to the public market," Katz said. "Given that equity markets have been rising on low volatility and low volume recently I would expect the perceived valuation gap between investors and IPO candidates to be gradually eroded."

"There is definitely some IPO backlog in the market and several companies are evaluating a float with us. Most of the potential candidates are however well capitalized and are watching market developments, including the DKSH IPO, closely," he added.

The IPO of DSKH, which focuses on helping multinational companies like Nestle and Shell and Levi Strauss enter Asian markets, is the first notable IPO on the European market since before the euro zone debt crisis intensified the financial markets turmoil last July.

DKSH’s offering does not include any new shares. All investors see their stakes reduced – the majority shareholder Diethelm Keller Holding will remain the biggest shareholder with a stake of around 46 percent, down from 63 percent before the IPO.

"Given that the existing shareholders of DKSH are placing almost one third of their holdings which leads to a free float market cap of around 900 million Swiss francs or $1 billion, DKSH will certainly be included in the SPI, our benchmark index," Katz said.

"An ongoing positive development of DKSH’s shares or a free float increase would certainly boost DKSH’s chances to be included in the blue chip index SMI," he added.

Shares in DKSH changed hands on the grey market at between 55 and 60 francs, according to traders. Analysts said the company's exposure to Asia provided good reasons for it to catch investors' attention.

150-year old DKSH currently generates 36 percent of its revenues in Thailand and 24 percent in Greater China. In 2011, DKSH reported net sales of 7.3 billion francs, with growth averaging 10 percent over the recent years. A study by Roland Berger suggested that DKSH was the leading Market Expansion Services provider with a focus on Asia terms of transaction value.

Deutsche Bank and UBS are joint global coordinators on the offering and are joint bookrunners with Berenberg Bank and Credit Suisse.

DSKH said it granted syndicate banks a greenshoe option of up to 10 percent, to be exercised by April 18, according to Reuters. A greenshoe option is an "over-allotment option" under which the company, besides the shares originally offered, can set aside up to 15 percent for underwriters.