Australia's SurfStitch aims for $186 mln market value in IPO plan -source

SYDNEY, Nov 27 (Reuters) - Australian online clothing retailer SurfStitch aims to sell shares in a Sydney stock exchange listing that will give it an overall market value of A$218 million ($186 million), a source told Reuters.

The valuation would be about three times what former owner Billabong International Ltd sold it for four months earlier as part of a restructuring carried out by the struggling surfwear maker after years of losses.

SurfStitch plans to lodge an initial public offering prospectus with exchange authorities on Thursday, said the person with knowledge of the matter, who declined to be identified since the listing was not yet finalised.

The person said SurfStitch has already arranged the sale of shares equal to about a third of the company in a “front-end” bookbuilding process for A$83 million. Buyers are divided 50-50 between offshore investors and domestic institutions, the person said.

Australia is headed for its biggest year of IPOs as company owners capitalise on a relatively buoyant equity market fuelled by record low interest rates. Internet-related firms are increasingly joining the ranks of firms listing as they bypass overseas technology markets like the NASDAQ in the hope of attracting support locally.

At a total of A$218 million, the market capitalisation would value SurfStitch at a multiple of one time its forecast 2015 revenue, a discount to similar online clothing retailers like U.K.-listed ASOS Plc and Boohoo.Com Plc which trade over two times forecast annual revenue.

But the IPO valuation is far higher than the roughly A$70 million the company was effectively worth when Billabong exited in August, highlighting the urgency of that sale.

SurfStitch’s current owners, its founding directors and fund managers Perpetual Ltd, Paradice Investment Management and Ausbil Investment Management Ltd, all plan to keep large stakes in the company after listing, the source said.

1 US dollar = 1.1700 Australian dollar Editing by Kenneth Maxwell