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Business

Postbank Goes Public

After a bumpy start, Germany's largest retail bank, Postbank, successfully launched its initial public offering, though share prices were well below initial forecasts.

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Postbank is now at home on the Frankfurt stock exchange

Postbank shares rose slightly as trading started on Wednesday in Germany's first major IPO since November 2000 when parent company Deutsche Post went public. The shares' first traded price on the Frankfurt stock exchange was €29.00 ($35.10), up 1.8 percent on the price of €28.50 fixed on Tuesday night.

The price was in the lower part of the company's €28 - €32 asking range, already scaled back from the initially sought-after range of €31.50 - €36.50. Deutsche Post CEO Klaus Zumwinkel agreed on the weekend to lower the price over concerns that potential investors weren't willing to pay as much as the company wanted.

"I'm satisfied with the results," said Zumwinkel. "This happened in a difficult market, which was not the case during the IPO of Deutsche Post. The market is always right."

Deutsche Post also cut the amount of stock offered by a third, to 54.5 million shares, and replaced that part of the IPO with convertible bonds worth €980 million.

Offering postponed

The last minute changes meant that Deutsche Post was forced to delay the Postbank offering by two days. In the end, the stock offering was two times oversubscribed and the convertible bond was four times oversubscribed, the company said.

The sale gives Postbank a market value of €4.67 billion. Private investors in Germany bought 20 percent of the shares, while 28 percent went to German institutional investors. Foreign investors bought about 48 percent.

With 11.5 million customers, Postbank is Germany's largest retail bank. The IPO is being keenly watched in Germany as investors hope it will revive the country's flagging shareholder culture.

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