Apollo's upsized IPO raises $565.4 million

NEW YORK Tue Mar 29, 2011 9:43pm EDT

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Private equity firm Apollo Global Management LLC raised $565.4 million in an initial offering that met with strong demand, an encouraging sign for other asset managers with plans to go public.

The firm, one of the largest in the world, sold about 19 percent more shares than planned, and at the higher end of a price range it had forecast. The offering, which Apollo said priced its shares at $19, values Apollo at close to $7 billion.

The IPO could set the stage for others such as Carlyle Group CYL.UL, which may file papers to go public later this year, a source previously told Reuters. Banks also are holding discussions with Oaktree Capital Management about going public, sources previously told Reuters.

These firms missed the first wave of private equity firms' IPOs at the height of the markets in 2007, around the time when Apollo originally filed to float.

"The stock market is in reasonably good shape and Apollo has weathered the crisis reasonably well," Steven Kaplan, a finance professor at the University of Chicago who specializes in private equity, said earlier on Tuesday. "There is a momentum factor for them."

Apollo, which was founded by former Drexel Burnham Lambert banker Leon Black in 1990, follows private equity firms Blackstone Group (BX.N) which blazed the trail by floating in 2007 and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co (KKR.N) which listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 2010.

Apollo said it sold 21.5 million shares in the IPO. That was about 19 percent more than it had planned. Stockholders sold 8.3 million shares, as planned, Apollo said.

The company's shares priced at the top of a $17 to $19 range. Apollo had previously cut its range from $18 to $20, sources had told Reuters.

Apollo's total number of shares will be 360.9 million, giving it a market value of nearly $7 billion, Reuters has calculated.

Still, it is dwarfed by KKR which has a market capitalization of nearly $12 billion and Blackstone which is valued at about $21 billion. Shares of Blackstone and KKR have risen 29 percent and 20 percent respectively this year.

Blackstone trades nearly 15 times its 2010 economic net income -- the measure that private equity firms use to report -- and KKR trades at about 6 times, according to Reuters calculations.

Apollo's IPO prices it at about 5.8 times its 2010 adjusted economic net income, according to Reuters calculations.

Apollo has assets under management of $67.6 billion, which include investments in companies such as casino operator Caesars Entertainment and real estate company Realogy.

The private equity firm revived its IPO -- in the works since 2008 -- earlier this year but then delayed it by almost a week as crises in the Middle East and Japan rattled markets.

PUBLIC CURRENCY

Going public gives private equity firms a currency to do acquisitions and gives them more visibility, Josh Lerner, a Harvard Business School professor specializing in private equity, said earlier on Tuesday.

"In some sense it cements the fact that you're one of the leading organizations in that space," he said.

It also gives potential liquidity to founders who may at some point be looking to sell their investments and retire.

"Even where there's relatively little selling in the IPO, essentially, this is an instance where it is hard not to think that this is part of the longer run goal," said Lerner.

Apollo's managing partners, Leon Black, Joshua Harris and Marc Rowan, who have worked together for more than 20 years, will own the lion's share of Apollo post-IPO.

Black will own the most with a 26 percent stake. Harris and Rowan will own 16 percent each according to Reuters calculations based on filings. The three will however hold 80.7 percent of the voting power post IPO.

California pension fund Calpers and the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), both significant shareholders in Apollo, will own about 8 percent each following the IPO.

Both Calpers and ADIA bought stakes in Apollo in 2007.

Apollo's shares are expected to begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday under the symbol "APO." (APO.N) They had been trading on Goldman Sachs Group Inc's private stock exchange, known as GSTrUE.

Goldman (GS.N), which planned to sell more than half of its Class A shares in the IPO, JPMorgan Chase (JPM.N) and Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAC.N) led underwriters on the IPO.

(Additional reporting by Clare Baldwin; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Carol Bishopric)

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