Godiva Owner Is Said to Plan London IPO of Turkish Grocer

Updated on
  • Sale next year may value Sok chain at $3 billion or more
  • Yildiz private-equity arm Gozde soars in Istanbul trading

The owner of Godiva chocolates is planning to sell shares in its Turkish discount grocery unit through a London initial public offering that may value the company at $3 billion or more, according to three people with knowledge of the plans.

Yildiz Holding AS, which holds a controlling stake at the Istanbul-based retailer Sok Marketler Ticaret AS, is holding talks with international banks and may choose three or four to manage the sale, said the people, who asked not to be named because the plan isn’t public.

Yildiz’s publicly traded private-equity arm, Gozde Girisim Sermayesi Yatirim Ortakligi AS jumped by 17 percent in Istanbul tarding to 4.83 liras as of 11:06 a.m., the most since June and the highest value since it started trading in 2010. Yildiz owns about 80 percent of Sok through a direct stake and Gozde’s holding of about 39 percent, the people said.

Companies are taking advantage of increased appetite for share sales from Turkey as political uncertainty subsides. The value of IPOs in 2017 already surpassed the last three years combined, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Sok, which competes with BIM Birlesik Magazalar AS, plans to add 1,000 stores this year, Yildiz Chief Financial Officer Mustafa Tercan said in August.

Yildiz, which also owns McVitie’s maker United Biscuits Holdings through its London-based pladis Foods Ltd. unit, may sell as much as 30 percent of Sok’s capital, according to the people. An adviser will be chosen this month and the sale is set to take place in the second quarter of next year or later, they said.

Yildiz controls about 80 percent of Sok through its direct stake and Gozde’s holding. Yildiz Holding declined to comment. The CFO said in August that the company was considering an IPO for grocery unit, without providing details.

Sok Marketler’s sales rose 44 percent to 3.9 billion liras ($1 billion) in the first half from a year earlier and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization increased 178 percent. The unit has about 4,700 stores in Turkey compared with more than 6,000 for BIM Birlesik Magazalar, the country’s biggest grocery chain by sales.

Turkey’s Medical Park Group is working with Goldman Sachs Group Inc. on a potential IPO in Istanbul or London, and smaller rival Memorial Healthcare Group picked Citigroup, Credit Suisse Group AG and Is Yatirim for a share sale in Istanbul, according to people with knowledge of the plans. Global Ports and Domino’s Pizza’s regional franchise DP Eurasia sold shares earlier this year in London. Burger King’s Turkey franchise, TFI Foods is also planning IPO in New York in 2018, according to people familiar with the plan.

— With assistance by Asli Kandemir

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