Year-End Spotlight: GPs spot an exit route

A long-awaited chance to realise some investments was presented to financial sponsors when the public markets bubbled back to life.

The beginning of the fourth quarter of 2009 saw private equity firms readying a host of portfolio companies for public listing.

The market for initial public offerings began to show real signs of life after nearly two years in a near-comatose state. Up until the end of June, only seven IPOs had been executed globally in 2009. Based on this figure, 2009 was on target to be the quietest twelve-month period for listings in 18 years. 

Year-End Spotlight

However, rallying stock markets spurred several firms to ready their best-performing assets for IPO.

In late December The Carlyle Group’s China Pacific Group raised $3.1 billion ahead of its IPO on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Meanwhile, the private equity giant is plotting to raise $1 billion – along with its co-investors – from an IPO of gas and oil exploration business Cobalt International Energy.

In the US, Fortress Investment Group floated its transport business RailAmerica in October and is planning to take “two or three” of its companies public in 2010, including its mortgage-servicer Nationstar, said Wesley Edens, a principal and co-chairman of the firm.

Other business reportedly being readied for the public markets in 2010 include New Look, the UK high street retailer owned by Permira and Apax, and Merlin Entertainment Group, the theme park operator controlled by The Blackstone Group.

For detailed information on IPO activity in 2009, consult the archived PEO coverage listed on the right.