Avast pulls IPO as it falls victim to Europe turmoil

By bne IntelliNews July 25, 2012

Nicholas Watson in Prague -

Avast Software has pulled its international IPO that had been expected to price this week - a victim of the rising fears over the deteriorating situation in Europe, according to banking sources.

Anti-virus provider Avast Software was expecting to follow its Czech-founded peer AVG Technologies with an IPO in the US, which, if priced at the mid-point of the $9-11 per share range given on July 13, would have raised $90m, giving the company a market value of $846m.

But the sources say the Dutch-based Avast, which like AVG was founded over two decades ago by Czech entrepreneurs and offers free antivirus software, has now pulled the Nasdaq listing. AVG raised $128m in an IPO on the New York Stock Exchange in February, but the shares are now trading about 37% below their issue price.

Avast has not returned bne's calls. Sources, however, say the IPO has not been a smooth process. The company initially aimed to raise $200m, while it replaced one of the original underwriters - Morgan Keegan - with Jefferies in April. The other underwriters are UBS Investment Bank, Deutsche Bank Securities, Pacific Crest Securities and Macquarie Capital.

Four companies successfully priced and listed their shares in the US in the week of July 16-20, the largest of which was internet security firm Palo Alto Networks, which raised $260m. However, the accelerated worries about the situation in Europe have put the plans of the eight companies aiming to raise nearly $900m on US exchanges this week in doubt.

The Financial Times reported on July 25 that Wall Street's so-called fear gauge, the VIX, has jumped more than 21% since July 23, when yields on Spanish 10-year bonds touched a euro-era record high. The paper quoted an equity capital markets banker as saying that a spiking VIX typically indicates the buyside is becoming more risk-averse, and "that's something that could impact on the decision to launch an IPO."

Already Fender, the guitar maker, has cancelled its IPO, saying last week that economic conditions had stopped it reaching its desired valuation.

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