MOSCOW May 29 Russian hypermarket chain Lenta,
part-owned by U.S. private equity firm TPG and Russia's VTB
Capital, is talking to banks about a possible London
listing which could raise at least $1 billion, sources familiar
with the matter said.
The move could produce a rare success story for a U.S.
buyout firms in Russia, giving TPG the opportunity to exit an
investment it made in 2009.
Most U.S. private equity firms have shied away from Russia
due to concerns about corruption and a suspicion that the best
deals go to favoured oligarchs. TPG has not had an easy time
with Lenta - it had a long running dispute with its founder
which ended in 2011.
An initial public offering (IPO) of Lenta would be the
biggest floatation of a Russian company since mobile operator
MegaFon raised $1.7 billion in November.
Planning for an IPO is in the very early stages and could
take place in the first quarter of 2014, one source familiar
with the situation said. A second source said it could be in the
fourth quarter of 2013 or first quarter of 2014.
Two banking sources said the company could command a
valuation of over $5 billion, meaning that selling a 20-25
percent stake could see it raise $1-$1.25 billion.
A third source familiar with the situation said a figure of
around 1 billion pounds ($1.5 billion) was realistic. A separate
banking source, however, said it would more likely raise around
$700 million. Meetings with banks were held this week, one of
the sources said.
VTB, which owns more than 10 percent of Lenta, has
previously said it wants to sell its holding in Lenta by 2015.
TPG owns a majority stake although the precise figure has
not been disclosed. Lenta was not immediately available for
comment. TPG and VTB declined to comment.