ASR IPO Raises $1.2 Billion as Dutch Government Cuts Stake

ASR CEO 'Happy' IPO Proceeded Ahead of Brexit Vote
  • IPO values ASR at 2.93 billion euros as insurer goes to market
  • Insurer sells 52.2 million shares at 19.5 euros apiece

ASR Nederland NV raised 1.02 billion euros ($1.2 billion) in an initial public offering, allowing the Dutch government to recoup some of the money it spent on bailing out the insurer’s parent, Fortis, during the financial crisis.

ASR rose as much as 7.2 percent on its first day of trading in Amsterdam on Friday and the shares were was up 3.6 percent at 20.21 euros as of 11:05 a.m. The insurer sold 52.2 million shares at 19.5 euros each, it said in a statement on Friday. That values the Utrecht-based company at 2.93 billion euros, making it the biggest IPO of a Dutch insurer since NN Group NV raised 2.2 billion euros in July 2014.

“ASR was priced in the low end of the middle of the range,” said Joost van Beek, an analyst at Theodoor Gilissen Bankiers NV. “The state wants the IPO to succeed above all. It’s a fair price.”

ASR is the second IPO of assets nationalized by the Dutch state in 2008 in less than a year, following ABN Amro Group NV’s share sale in November. The government split Fortis’s Dutch banking and insurance operations to create ABN Amro and ASR after rescuing the units for 16.8 billion euros, with 4 billion euros earmarked for ASR.

Fortis was one of the three parties that bought ABN Amro as part of a 72 billion-euro takeover in 2007. The deal, the largest financial-services takeover at the time, turned sour a year later as financial markets seized up. Unlike ABN Amro, ASR didn’t receive any state aid after being nationalized, that’s why it was allowed to sell assets including its real estate development unit, and make acquisitions.

“If you look at price-to-tangible-book value, the insurer falls squarely in between NN, which has by far the best financial position of the Dutch insurers, Aegon and Delta Lloyd,” Van Beek said. “It has a good position given ASR’s high solvency ratio and dividend yield.”

ASR is one of at least four Dutch companies proceeding with IPO plans this year, alongside Philips Lighting NV, Basic Fit NV and infrastructure developer SIF Holding NV.

“We’re happy that we succeeded with the IPO ahead of the Brexit vote,” ASR Chief Executive Officer Jos Baeten said in an interview Bloomberg Television’s Francine Lacqua. “A vote in favor of Brexit wouldn’t be a good outcome.”

ABN Amro, Citigroup Inc. and Deutsche Bank AG are acting as global coordinators on the sale. Barclays Plc, Rabobank, HSBC Holdings Plc and ING Groep NV are joint bookrunners.

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