Springer Nature to offer 1.6 billion euros of shares in listing

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Springer Nature, the publisher of science magazines Nature and Scientific American, is offering shares worth up to 1.6 billion euros ($1.95 billion) in its planned initial public offering (IPO), it said on Wednesday.

The company, which is aiming for an inclusion in Germany’s midcap index, has set a price range of 10.50-14.50 euros a share, with new shares worth 1.2 billion euros being sold and a free float of up to 44.8 percent.

Trading is expected to start on the Frankfurt exchange on May 9.

Buyout group BC Partners will sell some of its shares in the listing if demand is strong, while majority owner Holtzbrinck will acquire shares worth 100 million euros in the offering, although its stake will still sink under 50 percent.

The IPO is on track to be the second biggest this year on the Frankfurt stock exchange, behind Siemens' medical technology unit Healthineers SHLG.DE, but ahead of Deutsche Bank's DBKGn.DE asset management arm DWS DWSG.DE.

Springer Nature was formed in 2015 through the merger of Holtzbrinck’s Macmillan Science and Education unit with BC Partners’ Springer business, which publishes scientific, technical and medical books and journals.

The tie-up was designed to make it easier to compete with the likes of RELX REL.L and Informa INF.L as publishers increasingly shift to digital content and readers use smartphones and tablets to access information.

Springer Nature, which says it is the largest English language academic book publisher with 13,000 new books every year, posted revenues of 1.64 billion euros in 2017, up 2.5 percent from 2016.

Springer Nature is a separate company from German publisher Axel Springer SPRGn.DE.

Its adjusted operating income was 374 million euros in 2017, while adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation stood at 551 million euros.

The entire proceeds from the listing are to be used to cut net debt by a third. That currently stands at roughly 3 billion euros, and Springer Nature is targeting a leverage of 3.5 times EBITDA after the IPO.

Springer Nature and other publishers earlier this month agreed to work together on sharing articles while protecting the rights of authors and publishers in a deal with Researchgate, an online collaboration platform dubbed ‘Facebook for scientists’.

Reporting by Arno Schuetze and Emma Thomasson; Editing by Adrian Croft