UPDATE 2-Metro shares slide as Ukraine turmoil casts doubt over Russia IPO

Mon Mar 3, 2014 8:19am EST

* Metro shares down 7 pct on questions over IPO

* Was seeking 1 bln euros from listing

* Metro needs proceeds to grow in Russia, cut debt

* Shares in rival Russian retailer Lenta down 11 pct (Recasts with IPO looking unlikely)

By Matthias Inverardi and Arno Schuetze

DUESSELDORF/FRANKFURT, Germany, March 3 (Reuters) - German retailer Metro's plan for an imminent stock market listing of a stake in its Russian wholesale business is under threat because of market turmoil over the crisis in Ukraine, sources told Reuters on Monday.

The company was hoping to raise at least 1 billion euros ($1.4 billion) by selling a quarter of its Russian cash-and-carry operation in a London initial public offering (IPO) organised by Goldman Sachs and Sberbank.

A person familiar with the matter said the IPO is unlikely to go ahead, but noted that Metro still has two weeks to meet formalities for a second-quarter listing if markets turn.

"With the current crisis in Ukraine, the market for any Russia-related transaction is shut. Metro would have to leave too much money on the table," the source said.

Another source with knowledge of the plans said the IPO timetable was in danger.

A spokesman for Metro said that market conditions needed to be favourable for an IPO and that it is continually assessing the situation in Ukraine. He declined to comment on whether the listing, expected around Easter, could be delayed.

Shares in Metro dropped by 7 percent to a six-month low by 1230 GMT, making them the biggest faller among European retail stocks. The shares had been supported in recent months by the IPO plans as Metro continues to struggle in mature markets.

Investors have been keen buyers of consumer-oriented businesses in Russia in recent years, but the Ukraine crisis overshadowed last week's stock market debut of Russian hypermarket chain Lenta and its shares fell 11 percent on Monday.

Metro planned to use the proceeds from the IPO to expand its cash-and-carry business in Russia, its most profitable unit and the country's fourth-biggest retailer behind X5, Magnit and French chain Auchan.

Metro operates 72 stores in Russia and achieved sales of 183 billion roubles ($5.09 billion) in 2013.

Europe's fourth-biggest retailer, which is restructuring a sprawling empire to focus on cash-and-carry and consumer electronics, also planned to use some of the IPO proceeds to reduce debt, which stood at 2.4 billion euros on Dec. 31.

"They are in a tricky situation. They want and they need the IPO to free up cash to grow in emerging markets, but in this market environment, I don't see how this is possible," said one analyst, who declined to be named. ($1 = 35.9357 Russian roubles) ($1 = 0.7240 euros)

(Writing by Emma Thomasson; Editing by Maria Sheahan and David Goodman)

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