Just the ticket, Trainline shares surge on London debut

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s Trainline bucked a trend of lacklustre European initial public offerings (IPOs) on Friday, as the rail ticketing group’s shares jumped as much as 23% on its London market debut.

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The British firm, which sells rail and coach tickets online, floated 56.5% of its business on the London Stock Exchange, valuing it at 1.68 billion pounds.

Trainline’s shares, which were priced at 350 pence, opened at 400 pence and quickly climbed to a high of 431 pence. They were trading up 20% at 420 pence by 0720 GMT.

Founded more than 20 years ago, Trainline sells tickets from 220 rail and coach carriers across 45 European and Asian countries on its website and mobile app, generating net ticket sales of 3.2 billion pounds in the fiscal year 2019.

The pricing at the top of Trainline’s targeted range marks a bright spot for London IPOs, which have seen a slow start to the year as uncertainty around Britain’s departure from the European Union has stirred market turbulence.

Despite an improvement in proceeds from European listings over the past two months, compared to a 10-year low of $292 million in the first quarter, recently-listed companies including Finablr and Watches of Switzerland are still trading below their flotation price.

Finablr had to slash its IPO price, blaming jittery markets and weak investor demand.

The company said it will use the proceeds of the IPO, in which fund manager Baillie Gifford has committed to invest 200 million pounds, to raise its profile and tap into growing demand for e-ticketed travel across Europe.

Trainline opted to push on with the IPO despite sources saying private equity firms had expressed interest in buying it.

A previously planned London IPO in 2015 was derailed when U.S. private equity fund KKR bought it for an undisclosed value that sources then put at more than 500 million pounds.

Reporting by Clara Denina; Editing by Rachel Armstrong and Alexander Smith