Wirtualna Polska plans IPO on Warsaw bourse

By bne IntelliNews March 30, 2015

bne IntelliNews -


Polish media group Wirtualna Polska announced on March 30 that it will launch an IPO, capitalisting on a boom in activity in Polish TMT as consumer spending grows.

The private equity owners of the operator of Poland's leading internet portal WP.pl had suggested earlier this month that they could be building towards an exit. Wirtualna Polska will seek to raise PLN80m-100mn (€19mn-24mn) from the issue of new shares, while Innova Capital and MCI Management are set to put up a stake of up to 23.5%.

"Funds from the issue of new shares will be put to finance new acquisitions within the framework of the group's approved strategy and for paying down debt from bank loans," the company said in its statement.

The offer is set to take place in the second quarter of 2015, depending on market conditions, Wirtualna Polska said in a statement. The sale is directed predominantly to institutional and retail investors in Poland. Only a limited effort will be made to reach to institutional investors abroad.

Innova Capital bought Wirtualna Polska in 2014 for PLN383mn. MCI Management bought into Grupa Wirtualna Polska for PLN60mn last year. Earlier this month the local fund manager suggested the company could be worth as much as PLN1bn.

The IPO comes hot on the heels of a high priced purchase of Poland's second largest private TV network TVN by US Scripps networks in a prolonged sales process that attracted several international groups. Another TV channel operator, Puls TV, also announced this month plans to debut on the WSE.

"Now is very positive for tech internet IPOs in Western Europe and the US, and I expect this trend to accelerate also on the Warsaw Stock Exchange," MCI Management's Tomasz Czechowicz told bne Intellinews

Polish TMT is seen as a good avenue for exposure to growing consumer spending. Most analysts expect to see the advertising market grow 4-5% this year.

"Consumption is growing nicely," Tomasz Krukowski, who heads equities research in the region for Deutsche Bank, tells bne Intellinews, "and there's not many opportunities to play it. The WSE is full of banks and heavy industry."

WP.pl is locked in a battle with onet.pl over interent supremacy, suggesting it will look to use the funds to make acquisitions to maintain the lead it took late last year.  

At the same time, private equity is cashing out. The sale of TVN saw local group ITI exit. Czechowicz said earlier this month that MCI would partially exit Wirtualna Polska during an IPO.

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