More Russian IPOs bite the dust

By bne IntelliNews May 30, 2012

bne -

Dashing initial optimism at the start of the year, Russian IPO plans fell like ninepins in 2011 as investors baulked at the prices sought. This year is shaping up as bad if not worse, with Megafon and Vkontakte the latest in a growing line of Russian companies to mothball floatations.

The planned IPOs of Russian mobile phone giant Megafon and Russia's largest social network Vkontakte were both postponed on May 29, according to media reports. Whilst Megafon blmed the delay of its listing from July to September on poor market conditions, Vkontakte - often called the "Russian Facebook" - said the debacle surrounding the US giant's own recent offer has damaged its prospects.

The pullbacks add to a growing list of Russian companies who have called off IPOs in 2012, repeating the sad experience of 2011. So far this year, airport operator Domodedovo, real estate developer O1 Properties, shoe retailer Tsentrobuv and Russia's largest lender Sberbank have all postponed share offerings in 2012.

Megafon shareholders Alisher Usmanov and TeliaSonera announced the company planned to make an IPO in April, saying that 20% of the company would be sold. TeliaSonera aimed to sell a 10.6% stake, with subsidiary Megafon Investments to make up the rest.

However, as the Eurozone crisis whips up another global storm on the markets, Megafon's Russian peers have seen valuations slide. Unnamed sources point to the performance of Vimpelcom, which operates the Beeline brand in Russia and the CIS and has seen its shares drop 16.3% since April, as a particular case in point, reports Vedomosti.

Meanwhile, Russia's largest social networking site, VKontakte, also announced a delay to its plans to float, with founder and CEO Pavel Durov breaking the news via Twitter. Durov however blamed not poor the choppy markets, but the sentiment on the tech sector whipped up by the recent $16bn Facebook IPO in New York, which saw technical glitches and an ensuing share price slide.

The Vkontakte head offered no guidance on when the company may make a new attempt to attract equity finance. "The Facebook IPO has destroyed the faith of many private investors so VK's IPO is postponed for an indefinite term," Durov wrote.

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