Singapore wealth fund buys stake in Spain's Applus

MADRID Thu May 15, 2014 10:31am EDT

MADRID May 15 (Reuters) - Singapore's sovereign wealth fund GIC bought a 6.5 percent stake in Spanish industrial testing firm Applus when it went public earlier this month, according to a regulatory filing, as the country's economic turnaround draws more foreign investors.

Government Of Singapore Investment Corporation PTE LT, also known as GIC, bought the shares, worth about 127 million euros at current market prices, the filing showed.

Applus raised about 1.1 billion euros ($1.51 billion) - 300 million euros of which were new shares - as Spain's market for initial public offerings (IPOs) reawakens after a three-year drought in the economic slump and banking crisis.

Travel firm Edreams Odigeo was the first company to go public this year, while two real estate investment vehicles raised money through flotations, attracting funds from prominent investors such as U.S. billionaires George Soros and John Paulson.

International investors' rising interest in Spanish companies, as the economy returns to growth, may encourage others to go to market this year, bankers say.

Just over half the shares sold in the Applus IPO went to British investors, the company's chief executive Fernando Basabe said at the time of the listing, while 11 percent was placed with U.S. investors and other 10 percent went to Asia. The rest was distributed across Europe.

Shares in Applus were down 0.3 percent to 15.5 euros at 1410 GMT, after rising earlier in the day. They were up nearly 7 percent from the 14.50 euros the stock was priced at on May 9.

U.S private equity firm Carlyle reduced its holding in Applus, which also offers inspection services, to 35 percent, and about 58 percent the Spanish firm's capital was placed through the offering.

($1 = 0.7294 Euros) (Reporting by Tomas Cobos, Writing by Sarah White, editing by David Evans)