S Immo ups capital to fund acquisitions

VIENNA (Reuters) - Austrian property group S Immo SIAG.VI said on Wednesday it would issue up to 6,691,717 new shares, equivalent to up to 10% of existing share capital, in an accelerated bookbuilding overnight to raise funds to further finance growth.

Based on Wednesday’s closing share price the issue could raise almost 150 million euros ($167 million).

One of its reference shareholders had indicated interest for more than half of the envisaged transaction size, S Immo said, triggering renewed consolidation speculation.

Rival Immofinanz IMFI.VI holds 29% in S Immo. The two companies abandoned merger plans in November, blaming "the inability to reach an agreement over a possible (share) exchange ratio".

Austrian investors Ronny Pecik and Norbert Ketterer reported a 10% stake in S Immo in November. Erste Group's ERST.VI asset management arm has a 4% stake.

“S Immo AG plans to use the net issue proceeds for future growth, in particular through acquisitions,” the statement said.

Analysts have long said a consolidation among Austria’s three remaining listed property groups would make sense, as it would increase sales power and financial strength.

In 2016, a planned merger of CA Immo CAIV.VI, the third listed group, and Immofinanz failed due to resistance from an activist investor.

Austrian residential property groups Conwert and Buwog were taken over by German market leader Vonovia VNAn.DE in 2018.

S Immo said the number of shares issued as well as the placement price would be published immediately after the conclusion of the placement.

The new shares will be entitled to share in profits from thebeginning of 2019 and are expected to be admitted to trading on the Vienna Stock Exchange from Jan. 20.

Reporting by Kirsti Knolle; editing by David Evans