Australia's Nine seeks to raise up to $658 mln in IPO

Reuters

* Most of the proceeds earmarked to pay down debt

* Indicative price range of A$2.05 to A$2.35 a share

SYDNEY, Nov 4 (Reuters) - Australia's Nine Entertainment CoPty Ltd is seeking to raise up to A$697 million($658 million) in an initial public offering to pay down debt,according to its prospectus filed on Monday.

The IPO, set to be the biggest by an Australian company thisyear, comes as local listings stage a comeback with offeringsexpected to rebound to levels not seen since the globalfinancial crisis.

Nine's listing, set for Dec. 6, comes about a year after itavoided receivership with U.S. hedge funds Oaktree Capital Group and Apollo Global Management taking control in amore than $3 billion debt for equity swap.

It plans to sell 131 million new shares, including sharesoffered to employees and executives, and 179.7 million existingshares at an indicative price range of A$2.05 to A$2.35 a share.

"The pricing looks reasonable," said a media analyst whodeclined to be named. "You can back out a multiple for Seven'stelevision assets about 8.5 times, which if that is the case,the price of this (Nine IPO) looks reasonable."

Seven West Media Ltd owns the top-ranked Seven TVNetwork which has long held the lead in TV ratings over rivalsNine and Ten Network Holdings ltd.

The float would give Nine a market capitalisation of A$1.9billion to $2.2 billion.

Oaktree Capital, which currently owns 28 percent of Nine,will retain 14 percent of the company after the IPO, whileApollo, with a 26 percent stake, will own a 22 percent holdingafterwards.

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