April 12, 2018 / 10:58 AM / 2 years ago

Octo Telematics IPO on hold as Russian shareholder hit by sanctions: sources

MILAN/LONDON (Reuters) - Italy’s Octo Telematics has put a planned initial public offering on hold after sanctions were imposed on controlling shareholder Renova Holdings and on Renova’s Russian chairman, Viktor Vekselberg, two sources said on Thursday.

The United States imposed major sanctions last week against Vekselberg and other oligarchs close to Russian President Vladimir Putin as punishment for alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election and other “malign activity”.

“This is just the way things are, it’s a direct consequence of the U.S. sanctions,” one of the sources told Reuters, confirming an earlier report in Italian daily Il Sole 24 Ore.

The newspaper cited a report by Dealreporter, which Reuters could not access.

A second source familiar with the matter said Goldman Sachs (GS.N), one of the banks advising on the IPO, was no longer helping with the proposed listing as the U.S. sanctions prohibited the Wall Street heavyweight from working with certain named Russian entities.

Octo Telematics, which provides black boxes and data analytics services for the auto insurance industry, declined to comment on financial speculation.

The company said Octo Telematics would make a statement in the coming days on how it planned to resolve the situation.

The company declined to comment when asked whether it might follow the example of Swiss pumpmaker Sulzer, which bought shares from Renova to cut the Russian stake in the company below 50 percent in a bid to escape the U.S. sanctions.

Octo Telematics is 68.5 percent-controlled by Renova. Private equity group Pamplona Capital Management is also a shareholder in Octo Telematics with a 26.5 percent stake.

The planned Milan IPO, structured through the sale of shares by existing Octo Telematics shareholders, was expected in the first half of 2018, another source told Reuters in December.

Owners were planning to sell 35-40 percent of the company to Italian and foreign institutional investors, targeting an enterprise value of 1.2 billion euros ($1.5 billion), Il Sole said in its report.

Reporting by Agnieszka Flak and Stephen Jewkes in Milan and Sinead Cruise and Lawrence White in London; Editing by Mark Bendeich and Alexandra Hudson

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