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Caravan maker Knaus Tabbert's IPO gets stuck in slow lane

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - German caravan maker Knaus Tabbert is selling fewer shares than originally planned in its initial public offering (IPO) and pricing the stock at the low end of expectations amid subdued investor interest, despite a boom in recreational vehicle sales.

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Knaus Tabbert [KNAUST.UL] is placing 4 million shares instead of an earlier target of up to 4.9 million, the company said on Tuesday, adding the shares would be priced at the low end of its 58 to 74 euros per share range.

The first day of share trading for the company, which is valued at 602 million euros ($706 million) in the deal, is scheduled for Wednesday.

The popularity of camping has soared during the COVID-19 pandemic and recreational vehicle registrations jumped by more than a quarter in Europe from May to July, while the proportion of Europeans who went on camping holidays rose by about 20%, according to a recent survey by Erwin Hymer.

However, as caravan makers are considered a niche segment, bankers struggled to drum up large investor demand, a person familiar with the matter said.

In the IPO, investment firm HTP, which rescued Knaus Tabbert from insolvency in 2009, will sell some of its shares, while Knaus Tabbert wants to raise around 20 million euros to help build a new factory.

Europe's third biggest producer of caravans after France's Trigano TRIA.PA and Thor Industries' THO.N Erwin Hymer, Knaus Tabbert had sales of 780 million euros in 2019, when 3,000 staff produced more than 26,000 caravans and mobile homes.

Its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation stood at 64 million euros.

In 2018, Knaus Tabbert shelved plans for an IPO due to volatile markets.

($1 = 0.8524 euros)

Reporting by Arno Schuetze; editing by Douglas Busvine and Mark Potter