* GTT is world's top maker of hull lining for LNG ships
* IPO could value GTT at up to $2.4 billion
* Les Echos said IPO planned for February 2014
(Adds details about GTT valuation and market position)
PARIS, Nov 18 French utility GDF Suez, oil firm
Total and private equity fund Hellman & Friedman plan a February
IPO for their jointly-owned unit GTT, the world's No. 1 maker of
cryogenic hull linings for LNG tankers, French financial daily
Les Echos said on Monday.
Sources told Reuters in June that GTT's shareholders were
planning an IPO that could value the business at up to $2.4
GDF Suez, which is a major LNG shipper and leading
shareholder of Gaztransport & Technigaz (GTT) with a 40 percent
stake, declined to comment.
Total and H&F - which each own 30 percent of GTT -
and GTT were not immediately available for comment. The paper
said shareholders had not yet decided how much of their stakes
they wanted to sell.
A source familiar with one of the shareholders told Reuters
in June that shareholders would formally lodge a request to go
public with the French authorities in the second half. The same
source said GTT had been valued at between 1.3 and 1.8 billion
euros ($1.8 to $2.4 billion).
GTT, based in a leafy suburb west of Paris, has 70 percent
of the market for the high-tech alloy membranes that line the
hulls of the world's liquefied natural gas (LNG) carriers.
Its main customers are Korean and Chinese shipbuilders who
pay GTT up to $10 million per ship. GTT says it has equipped
about 240 of the world's LNG carriers, which cost about $220
GTT and Norwegian competitor Moss Maritime have a virtual
duopoly on the lucrative niche market, despite attempts by
Korean shipbuilders to develop their own cryogenic technology.
Last year, a consortium of Korean shipbuilders - which have
a near-monopoly on LNG tankers - was reported to consider a bid
for GTT to prevent a Chinese rival from challenging their
domination of the global LNG carrier market.
GTT lines the inside of tanker hulls with thin nickel-iron
sheeting and insulation layers that contain the LNG, frozen at
minus 163 Celsius (-261 Fahrenheit). Moss, part of Italy's
ENI-Saipem group, stores LNG in thick aluminium spherical tanks
that give its LNG carriers their distinctive bulbous shape.
GTT last year earned a net profit of 30 million euros on
sales of 90 million and expects turnover to more than double
this year to 200 million euros ($271 million).
($1 = 0.7394 euros)
(Editing by Robin Pomeroy)