Southern Cross IPO back on

Southern Cross Healthcare Group, a Blackstone portfolio company, has relaunched its plans to float on the London Stock Exchange following postponement late last month.

The Blackstone Group, the US private equity firm, has relaunched its flotation of Southern Cross Healthcare Group, a UK care homes provider, according to a report.

Financial News said that lead banks UBS and Morgan Stanley expect to price the IPO later this week, with shares to be sold at between 225 pence and 280 pence, giving a market capitalisation for Southern Cross of up to £480 million (€692 million).

This would give Southern Cross a market capitalisation of up to £480 million, less than the top valuation of £550 million when the business initially planned to float at the beginning of June.

Late last month, Southern Cross said that it would delay its flotation due to market volatility. The move followed the postponement of another Blackstone portfolio company’s plan to list on the public markets, again due to market conditions: Cineworld, the UK’s second largest chain of cinemas, was expected to float on the London Stock Exchange with a market cap of approximately £450 million.

Blackstone bought Southern Cross in a £160 million secondary buyout from West Private Equity, recently renamed Lyceum Capital, in September 2004 and merged the business with Nursing Home Properties, which Blackstone purchased in a £563.5 million take-private in November 2004.

The US private equity firm is expected to reduce its 88 percent stake in Southern Cross following the flotation to less than 50 percent.

Blackstone was not immediately available for comment.