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IPO window looks closed as New Look postpones float

12 Feb 2010

New Look’s IPO has been postponed today, in what marks the third cancelled private equity float in as many days. The Apax- and Permira-owned company has chosen not to list due to “the unfavourable market backdrop”.

Blackstone investments Travelport and Merlin Entertainments, the operator of the London Eye and Madam Tussauds, have both also cancelled their floats on the London Stock Exchange.

Carl McPhail, CEO of New Look, said, “We have taken the difficult decision to postpone the initial public offering as a result of the considerable volatility in the equity markets. We remain convinced of the strengths of the New Look business and its suitability as a public company.

“We will re-evaluate our options when market conditions improve,” he added.

The UK clothing retailer was taken private by Permira and Apax Partners in 2004 with founder Tom Singh for a reported £800m (€921.3m).

Two years ago its owners put New Look up for sale but dropped the auction after bidders were turned off by the £1.8bn (€2.1bn) asking price.

This third UK flotation to have been abandoned in the last three days is a surefire signal that the IPO window has closed for now, with candidates all citing market uncertainty for the withdrawals.

However, Guardian commentator Nils Pratley has accused Blackstone’s greed for Travelport’s failure to list on Wednesday. He said, “The market turned up its nose at £1.2bn (€1.6bn) for Travelport for understandable reasons. The price wasn’t an obvious bargain and the incentive arrangements for senior executives, even after a tweak, seemed far too generous.

“Naturally, Blackstone blamed ‘market volatility’ for its decision to pull the float,” he added in a comment piece published yesterday.

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