February 4, 2020 / 7:33 AM / 16 days ago

Ferguson Plc mulls U.S. listing as UK demerger approaches

(Reuters) - Plumbing parts distributor Ferguson Plc (FERG.L) said on Tuesday it is considering a primary or additional listing of its shares in the U.S., as it looks to tap capital in its biggest market following the demerger of its UK Wolseley business this year.

The company’s shares were up 3.2% at 7,120 pence in early trading and were among the top gainers on Britain’s blue-chip index.

In September, Ferguson named a new chief executive officer and said it would separate the UK operations in a bid to focus more on its U.S. business after billionaire activist investor Nelson Peltz’s Trian fund took a 6% stake in Ferguson.

Ferguson could scrap its current American Depository Receipt program and list additional shares on an exchange in the United States, while remaining listed on the London Stock Exchange, the company said.

Another option would be to have the primary listing in the U.S., but give up its position in the FTSE 100 .FTSE as Ferguson changes the category of its listing in London.

“The Board believes that Ferguson’s natural long-term listing location is the USA but it is mindful that this is a complex issue for many of our existing shareholders,” Chairman Geoff Drabble said.

Both proposals would require majority shareholder approval of 75%, said the Virginia-based firm, which mainly serves the repair, maintenance and improvement markets.

Separately, the company also announced a $500 million share repurchase. Jefferies analysts called the buyback a “positive surprise” highlighting Ferguson’s strong cash generation.

Reporting by Pushkala Aripaka in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta

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