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Business

IPO Recovery Not Seen Until 2002

The terrorist atrocities in the US only worsened what was already an unfavorable climate for share issues this year, but an upturn is expected next year with a number of German companies set to make their market debut.

Most investment bankers have written off 2001 as a year for initial public offerings.

The terrorist atrocities in the United States only worsened an already unfavorable climate for market debuts, and hopes are now being pinned on more favorable developments next year.

In Germany, a number of heavyweights are already in the starting blocks. "We will first have to overcome a long difficult winter," said Jochen Grossmann at Commerzbank.

At present, there was absolutely no chance of placing new shares on the market and this was likely to be the case for some time yet, he said.

Roland Welzbacher at Concord Effekten even considers 2002 as a year that "is still virtually impossible to forecast" because of all the economic and political x-factors.

But a number of larger German companies have their IPOs firmly planned for next year. One candidate is utility Energie Baden-Württemberg (EnBW).

The group has already issued a special convertible bond, an IPO Bond, committing it to a listing next year.

Deutsche Bank and UBS Warburg are more or less confirmed as lead-managers for the issue. The issue volume is expected to be around 1.5 billion euros.

Shares in the utility are likely to be placed around the second half of next year. A much higher issuing volume is expected from Deutsche Telekom subsidiary T-Mobile.

Telekom chairman Ron Sommer plans to place around 10 billion euros worth of shares in the mobile-phone unit to reduce the debt mountain of his group.

Likely lead-managers will be Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs and Dresdner Bank, which have already accompanied all three tranches of Telekom's previous share issues.

Mannesmann Arcor is another billion-euro issue that is waiting its turn to come on the market next year, while mail and logistics giant Deutsche Post is planning to place another tranche of shares.

A number of smaller companies, meanwhile, are waiting for the investment climate to improve.

The number of share issues next year is estimated to reach 100, compared with around 200 this year.

But Commerzbank's Grossmann remains cautious: "There may be a lot of companies contemplating a share issue. But their comments are vague," he warned.

The first round of IPO candidates next year will have to meet a clear set of requirements, Grossman said: many years of experience in their sector, solid earnings performances, a conservative business strategy, and experienced management.

The last few months of the past two years were able to bring a surge of market debuts, in particular on Frankfurt's growth-share segment, the Neuer Markt.

This year, everything has changed. There has not been an IPO on the Neuer Markt for the past two months. The last debutante was Init AG on July 24.

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