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By Sarah White
MADRID, July 14 Shares in Imperial Tobacco Plc's distribution unit Logista jumped on Monday after debuting on the Spanish stock exchange, in the biggest initial public offering (IPO) in the country so far this year.
The company's shares were up 4 percent at around 13.5 euros per share half an hour after they began trading at 1000 GMT.
They were priced at 13 euros per share, at the bottom end of a 12.50 euro to 15.50 euro price range, which gave the company a value of around 1.73 billion euros ($2.4 billion).
That made it the largest offering since Spain's Bankia floated in mid-2011, barely a year before the bank was tripped up by losses on property loans and had to be bailed out by the state.
The Bankia debacle effectively marked the start of a three-year drought in Spain's IPO market, but an incipient economic recovery after a deep recession, and the turnaround of the financial sector, has tempted back investors.
Recent flotations in Spain have had a mixed reception. Companies have launched several listed real-estate investment vehicles to capitalise on foreign investors' interest in picking up bargains in the collapsed property market.
But the last two to price, Merlin Properties and Axia Real Estate, raised less than they had initially targeted.
Volatile markets have also weighed on some other European listings. Italian gaming group Sisal on Friday became the second company in the country to cancel listings plans last week.
Madrid-based Logista, which was bought by Britain's Imperial Tobacco six years ago, is a logistics operator in the tobacco sector but also distributes books, pharmaceutical products and lottery tickets and scratch cards to stores across Europe.
Imperial Tobacco is selling 27.3 percent of Logista, a total which could reach 30 percent if an over-allotment option is exercised, depending on demand. Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs are acting as global co-ordinators on the deal. ($1 = 0.7331 Euros) (Reporting by Sarah White; Editing by Louise Heavens and David Holmes)