UBS sees good year for Swiss IPOs in 2018

FILE PHOTO - The logo of Swiss bank UBS is seen at an office building in Zurich, Switzerland January 27, 2017. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

ZURICH (Reuters) - UBS UBSG.S expects a good year for Swiss initial public offerings in 2018 as a mixture of large and small deals hits the market, a senior executive at Switzerland's biggest bank told Reuters.

“We expect it to be a really attractive year for listings in 2018,” Martin Kesselring, head of UBS’s corporate client solutions business in Switzerland, said in an interview.

Six companies including measuring devices group Landis+Gyr LANDI.S, pharmacy chain Galenica Sante GALE.S and online drug store Zur Rose ROSEG.S listed shares in 2017.

Airline catering outfit Gategroup, owned by acquisitive Chinese group HNA, is in the starting blocks for a listing next year. Machinery maker United Grinding Group also plans to go public, sources have told Reuters.

A favorable market environment amid low interest rates and solid investor demand is poised to attract listings, Kesselring said. “The traffic lights are showing green, for next year as well,” he said.

Activist shareholders are also expected to make a mark next year, said Philipp Beck, UBS investment banking’s M&A head for Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

“We think this is a trend that will continue. We are seeing this across Europe,” he said.

“The threshold to launch a new campaign sinks with every success that activists are able to book in Europe. They jump on undervalued companies when there are windows to correct the undervaluation and the chance to win a majority vote at shareholder meetings.”

Swiss groups including Nestle NESN.S, Clariant CLN.S, Credit Suisse CSGN.S and GAM Holding GAMH.S have had to deal with shareholder activism of late.

Reporting by Angelika Gruber; Editing by Michael Shields