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UPDATE 1-Publisher Springer Nature again postpones flotation - source

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BERLIN, Oct 5 (Reuters) - Springer Nature is again postponing its plans to float on the German stock market after the coronavirus pandemic dealt a blow to parts of its business in the first half of the year, a source familiar with the matter said on Monday.

The publisher of Nature and Scientific American, which competes with Relx Plc’s Elsevier unit and John Wiley & Sons, had been looking to raise around 1 billion euros ($1.2 billion) to pay down debt.

It’s the third time in less than two years that Springer Nature, formed in 2015 through the merger of Holtzbrinck’s Macmillan Science and Education unit with BC Partners’ Springer business, pulled up just before going to market.

Springer Nature was not immediately reachable for comment.

Although its core Research division performed well in the first half of the year, with its digital Open Access unit achieving strong growth, the smaller Education and Professional divisions suffered double-digit declines.

A history of private-equity deals had left the company carrying debt of some 4.7 times 2019 core earnings, and the main goal of floating had been to reduce leverage to around 3.5 times, by selling new shares, sources have said.

The latest crop of initial public offerings in Frankfurt has been lacklustre, meanwhile, with the $18 billion float of Siemens Energy trading sideways after being priced below earlier expectations. (Reporting by Douglas Busvine; editing by Maria Sheahan and Thomas Seythal)