GrandVision Set for Stock Market Debut in IPO of Optician

GrandVision, the optician whose sales have increased more than fiftyfold since its creation in 1996, is set to join the stock market after its owner announced plans to sell shares in an initial public offering in Amsterdam.

HAL Holding NV, an investment firm based in Curacao and Monaco, will sell as much as 25 percent of the retailer’s shares, it said today in a statement. The IPO is likely to raise about 1 billion euros ($1.2 billion) for HAL and give GrandVision an equity value of about 5 billion euros, according to two people familiar with the matter.

The listing will help the company continue the growth it has achieved since its formation 19 years ago, Theo Kiesselbach, chief executive officer of GrandVision, said by phone. The company has made acquisitions almost every year, boosting sales to about 2.6 billion euros from 46 million euros and store numbers to about 5,600 from 190. Further deals are likely, Kiesselbach said today.

“With a potential listing we will have additional flexibility if and when something really, really big would happen,” the CEO said. “We expect to continue our world story based on both organic growth and acquisitions.”

The IPO might prove more important to HAL than to GrandVision, according to Yves Franco, an analyst at KBC Securities, as “it will release financial means” for other investments. All proceeds will go to HAL Holding, which also owns minority stakes in listed companies including Safilo Group SpA and SBM Offshore NV. The company has been reviewing options for its optical retail business since May.

HAL intends to remain “a significant long-term shareholder” in GrandVision, it said in today’s statement.

Global Chain

GrandVision’s 33 store chains around the world include Apollo-Optik in Germany, Pearle and Eye Wish Opticiens in the Netherlands, Generale d’Optique in France and Vision Express in the U.K. The company also operates Mas Vision outlets in Mexico.

The announcement comes as European retail stocks approach a six-month high as measured by the STOXX Europe 600 Retail Index, whose constituents include Carrefour SA and Tesco Plc.

Retail companies including Russia’s Lenta Ltd. and Poundland Group Plc in the U.K. raised about $8.5 billion from IPOs in Europe last year, the most in at least a decade, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

GrandVision’s revenue rose 6 percent to 2.1 billion euros in the first nine months of 2014. Adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization increased to 343 million euros from 301 million euros.

The IPO, and the timing of it, are subject to market conditions, the company said.

ABN Amro Bank NV and JPMorgan Chase & Co. are acting as joint global coordinators for the IPO.

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