Bausch + Lomb eyes over $8 billion valuation in IPO amid slowdown for listings

(Reuters) -Eye care products maker Bausch + Lomb on Thursday sought a valuation of as much $8.4 billion for its flotation in the U.S. and Canada, as it looks to test the appetite of capital markets investors who have pulled back from investing in IPOs.

Initial public offerings (IPOs) have slowed since the start of this year, as investors swallowed heavy losses from 2021 listings and as equity markets sold off in anticipation of U.S. interest rate hikes.

A selloff in global markets following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and subsequent Western sanctions served as a final blow, prompting companies, including Chinese fashion retailer Shein, to put their U.S. listing plans on hold.

The IPO market is now reopening, with high-profile listings such as that of social media platform Reddit and U.S. software startup ServiceTitan on the roster.

Bausch + Lomb, whose existing shareholders plan to sell 35 million shares at between $21 and $24 per share through the initial public offering, will not receive any proceeds from the sale.

“Bausch + Lomb is an important launch in terms of reopening the U.S. IPO market, one that will test investor appetite for future deals,” said Matt Kennedy, senior strategist with IPO research firm Renaissance Capital.

“This is an important first step toward getting back to unicorn listings like Reddit... once these more predictable IPOs can demonstrate positive returns, investors will begin to warm to the idea of growth stocks again,” Kennedy added.

Bausch + Lomb’s listing is poised to be the 2022’s second-largest U.S. IPO, trailing private equity firm TPG Inc, which was valued at over $9.1 billion in January.

Bausch + Lomb was first listed on the NYSE in 1958, but was taken private by Warburg Pincus in 2007.

The company, which started as a small optical goods shop in New York in 1853, currently supplies pharmaceuticals and contact lenses in about 100 countries.

Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs are the lead underwriters for the offering.

The company will list under the symbol "BLCO" on the New York Stock Exchange and the Toronto Stock Exchange, it said in a filing here.

Reporting by Mehnaz Yasmin and Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel