The Hut Group set for biggest British IPO in years

(Reuters) - E-commerce retailer The Hut Group plans a London initial public offering that would value it at around 4.5 billion pounds ($5.95 billion), potentially the biggest listing of a British company since 2013, as it seeks to tap investor appetite for the online sector.

In what would be the first major London IPO since the COVID-19 crisis, THG said on Thursday it plans to list in mid-September at least 20% of its stock, selling 920 million pounds in new shares and offering some existing shares for sale.

The Hut IPO is expected to be the biggest IPO of a British company since the government floated the shares of its Royal Mail postal service in 2013, data from the London Stock Exchange shows.

International companies including Chine Pacific Insurance Co. and Russian resource company EN+ ENPLI.RTS raised potentially more with their global depositary receipts.

THG, which operates retail brands, including Lookfantastic and skincare group ESPA, has benefited from an online shopping boom during lockdowns.

Its THG Ingenuity technology and operating platform is used by global companies including Nestlé NESN.S, Procter & Gamble PG.N, Walgreens Boots Alliance WBA.O, Johnson & Johnson JNJ.N and Nintendo 7974.T.

The firm said it saw strong revenue and earnings in the first half as online demand rose. It booked revenue of 1.1 billion pounds in 2019, up 24.5% year-on-year and targets overall revenue growth of 20-25% over the medium term.

The pandemic largely halted new listings earlier in the year when markets recorded sharp falls as investors avoided risk.

Since then the IPO market has revived in Asia and the United States, but remained slow in Europe.

Sky News reported the listing could give over 700 million pounds worth of shares to founder Matt Moulding if THG manages a market capitalisation of 7.25 billion pounds by December 2022.

THG did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the report.

CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson said the IPO would be well received given the accelerated shift to online business and said the valuation appeared reasonable.

“The technology is proven, and the business is used by big consumer brands as a logistics and infrastructure provider,” Hewson said.

Barclays, Citi and JP Morgan are among the investment banks working on the deal.

($1 = 0.7567 pounds)

Reporting by Muvija M, additional reporting by Clara Denina in London; Editing by Rachel Armstrong and Barbara Lewis