* IPO to value company at around 1 bln pounds - sources
* Sale to include 50 million pounds in new shares
* Founder Peter Wood to cut 50 pct stake by up to a third
By Kylie MacLellan and Myles Neligan
LONDON, Feb 27 British home and motor insurer
esure plans to list up to half its shares in London next month,
valuing the company at as much as 1 billion pounds ($1.5
billion) and raising money to wipe out debt and boost growth.
Esure, which insures about 5 percent of Britain's drivers,
is going public as a stock market upturn revives interest in new
share issues after years of subdued activity because of the
global financial crisis.
While the election stalemate in debt-laden Italy has weighed
on European markets this week, esure founder and chairman Peter
Wood told Reuters: "There is always going to be some wobble or
headwind. The market is not too bad".
Wood, esure's biggest investor with a stake of about 50
percent, will sell a maximum of a third of his holding, he said,
while buyout firm Tosca Penta, the second-biggest shareholder,
will offload about half its stake.
Esure will also sell 50 million pounds of new shares to
repay debt, bringing the total stake being sold to 35-50
While the company did not say how much the initial public
offering (IPO) was expected to raise in total, two people
familiar with the deal said it was likely to be in the region of
500 million pounds.
In 2010, Wood led a consortium that paid 200 million pounds
for a 70 percent stake in esure held by Lloyds Banking Group
The entrepreneur, who in 1985 pioneered telephone-based
insurance sales in Britain with the launch of Direct Line
, founded esure 13 years ago as a joint venture with
mortgage lender Halifax, itself acquired by Lloyds in
Esure's IPO comes four months after that of Direct Line,
still majority-owned by Royal Bank of Scotland and whose
shares have risen 20 percent since their debut.
Earlier this month, British housebuilder Crest Nicholson
returned to the London stock market, while estate agent
Countrywide Holdings is also marketing a planned London offering
Esure, which owns the female-focused Sheilas' Wheels brand,
also said 2012 pretax profit more than doubled to 115 million
Up to 15 percent of the Esure offering will be allocated to
retail investors, who stand to benefit from comparatively high
returns as the insurer ploughs half after-tax profit into
shareholder payouts, Wood said.
Deutsche Bank and J.P. Morgan Cazenove are acting as joint
global co-ordinator and joint bookrunner on the sale, while
Canaccord Genuity and Numis Securities are acting as co-lead