February 12, 2019 / 10:30 PM / 8 days ago

Virgin Trains USA delays IPO plans

(Reuters) - Virgin Trains USA has delayed its plans to raise more than $500 million in an initial public offering, a company spokeswoman said on Tuesday.

The railroad had planned to sell 28.3 million shares in its IPO, which was expected to be priced at $17 to $19 per share, according to its filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

At the top end of the range, the company would have been valued at $3.15 billion in what would have been one of the biggest U.S. IPOs so far this year.

“The price they were expecting was too high and it would have led the listing to go off the tracks, said Eric Schiffer, chief executive officer at investment firm Patriarch Partners LLC.

“Had they come lower on pricing, it would have hurt the investors, so they decided to hold it for a while, grow and then come back again. But it will come back for sure,” Schiffer added.

The company declined to comment on Schiffer’s remarks.

“As we explored a public offering, a number of alternative financing sources became available that allow us to keep the company private and meet our growth strategies,” Ben Porritt, senior vice president of corporate affairs for Virgin Trains USA told Reuters.

Virgin Trains, backed by Fortress Investment Group, operates a recently built passenger rail line from Miami to West Palm Beach.

The company, previously known as Brightline, rebranded itself after entering into a licensing agreement with British billionaire Richard Branson’s Virgin Group to use its brand, name and logo.

The company had reported a net loss of $87.13 million in 2018, compared with a loss of $35.96 million in 2017, mostly due to higher expenses, its filing showed.

Barclays, J.P. Morgan, Morgan Stanley were among its lead underwriters, with BofA Merrill Lynch and Allen & Co LLC serving as joint bookrunners.

Reporting by Diptendu Lahiri in Bengaluru

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