By Lawrence White
LONDON (Reuters) – Shares in Britain’s biggest watch retailer Watches of Switzerland Group Ltd rose by as much as 15% on their debut on the London Stock Exchange on Thursday.
They climbed to as high as 315 pence per share, from an initial price of 270 pence.
The listing of 34% of the company was set to raise around 220 million pounds, valuing the retailer at 647 million pounds, although the company said it could exercise an over-allotment option to bring the free float up to 37%.
The 270 pence initial price was already at the top end of the range initially targeted for the deal, suggesting strong demand for the retailer which accounted for half of all Rolex watches sold in the UK in 2018.
“Today marks the next phase in our growth story. I am delighted by the reaction we have received from the market to our business and the significant opportunities that lie ahead,” Chief Executive Brian Duffy said prior to the start of trading.
Owned before the IPO by U.S.-based private equity firm Apollo Global Management, Watches of Switzerland has 125 shops in Britain and also opened several standalone stores in the United States, including in Las Vegas and New York.
The initial success of the listing will come as a boon to European stock exchanges and dealmakers, who have been starved of deals this year with proceeds falling to their lowest in more than a decade in the first three months of 2019.
Barclays and Goldman Sachs International were global coordinators on the deal, while BNP Paribas and Investec acted as bookrunners and N.M. Rothschild was the financial adviser.
(Reporting by Lawrence White; Editing by Susan Fenton)