Australia's Nine seeks to raise up to $658 million in IPO

SYDNEY Sun Nov 3, 2013 7:30pm EST

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SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia's Nine Entertainment Co Pty Ltd IPO-NEL.AX is seeking to raise up to A$697 million ($658 million) in an initial public offering to pay down debt, according to its prospectus filed on Monday.

The IPO, set to be the biggest by an Australian company this year, comes as local listings stage a comeback with offerings expected to rebound to levels not seen since the global financial crisis.

Nine's listing, set for December 6, comes about a year after it avoided receivership with U.S. hedge funds Oaktree Capital Group (OAK.N) and Apollo Global Management (APO.N) taking control in a more than $3 billion debt for equity swap.

It plans to sell 131 million new shares, including shares offered to employees and executives, and 179.7 million existing shares at an indicative price range of A$2.05 to A$2.35 a share.

"The pricing looks reasonable," said a media analyst who declined to be named. "You can back out a multiple for Seven's television assets about 8.5 times, which if that is the case, the price of this (Nine IPO) looks reasonable."

Seven West Media Ltd (SWM.AX) owns the top-ranked Seven TV Network which has long held the lead in TV ratings over rivals Nine and Ten Network Holdings ltd (TEN.AX).

The float would give Nine a market capitalization of A$1.9 billion to $2.2 billion.

Oaktree Capital, which currently owns 28 percent of Nine, will retain 14 percent of the company after the IPO, while Apollo, with a 26 percent stake, will own a 22 percent holding afterwards.

($1 = 1.0597 Australian dollars)

(Reporting by Maggie Lu Yueyang; Editing by Lincoln Feast, Edwina Gibbs and Stephen Coates)

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