UPDATE 1-Soft Cover-More debut piles pressure on Australian IPOs

Wed Dec 18, 2013 9:34pm EST

* Cover-More shares fall 12.5 percent in lacklustre debut

* Window remains open for initial public offerings

* Pressure is growing on companies to offer better deals for investors (Updates with analysis and details on IPOs in Australia)

By Jackie Range

SYDNEY, Dec 19 (Reuters) - Shares in travel and medical insurer Cover-More Group Ltd dropped 12.5 percent on debut on Thursday in the latest Australian initial public offering to disappoint investors.

Cover-More's downbeat debut will increase pressure on companies to deliver more attractive offerings next year, when at least $5.46 billion worth of deals are expected to hit the Australian market.

But analysts said the window remained open for new listings even if companies might need to lower their pricing targets to entice investors.

"They haven't been leaving enough on the table for new shareholders," said Shannon Rivkin, director at Rivkin Securities.

"I think in a way it's a good thing to see some of these performing so badly - we'll start to see more realistic pricing of floats for next year."

Cover-More shares opened at A$1.75, below its IPO price of A$2 a share, and last traded at A$1.61, valuing the company at A$510 million.

Sydney-based private equity firm Crescent Capital Partners will cut its shareholding in the company to 13 percent from almost 83 percent under the terms of the offer.

The company is one of a number of private equity-backed businesses that have listed this year in Australia, with predictions of more to come in 2014.

But despite some soft performances including the biggest Australian IPO this year, Pact Group Holdings Ltd, and private equity-backed Nine Entertainment Co Holdings Ltd , there are still enough sellers and buyers to keep the market humming, said Deloitte Corporate Finance Partner Steve Woosnam.

"While some recent floats are currently in negative territory, we still expect the IPO window to remain open into the New Year, fuelled by a backlog of companies whose listing options in previous years have been limited and given strong and ongoing institutional and retail investor demand," Woosnam said.

($1 = 1.1257 Australian dollars) (Additional reporting by Lincoln Feast; Editing by Stephen Coates)

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