Germany's Metro delays Russia unit flotation due to Ukraine crisis

Reuters

* Metro hoped to raise 1 bln euros with IPO

* Planned to use proceeds to cut debt, invest in Russia

* Ukraine crisis hits Russian markets, Lenta listing

* Metro shares up over 3 pct

FRANKFURT, March 18 (Reuters) - German retailer Metro AG has put on ice a plan for a stock market listing of a stake in its Russian wholesale business because of market turmoil over the crisis in Ukraine.

The company was hoping to raise at least 1 billion euros ($1.4 billion) by selling a quarter of its Russian cash-and-carry operation in a London flotation organised by Goldman Sachs and Sberbank.

Citing a source familiar with the matter, Reuters reported earlier this month that the listing was unlikely to go ahead after Russia's attempt to annex the Crimea, which has sent the value of Russian assets tumbling and hit sentiment on world markets.

Metro continues to pursue its plans for a flotation - originally set for April - but does not see market conditions as currently appropriate "in light of the recent political developments", a spokesman said in a statement on Tuesday.

Shares in Metro, which had fallen sharply on the Ukraine crisis, were up 3.4 percent at 1536 GMT, making them the biggest gainers among European retail stocks.

Some shareholders had been critical of plans for the initial public offering (IPO), saying Metro should hold on to its most profitable unit.

Until recently, investors had been keen buyers of consumer-oriented businesses in Russia, but the turmoil in Ukraine overshadowed last month's stock market debut of Russian hypermarket chain Lenta.

Metro had planned to use the proceeds from the IPO to expand its Russian cash-and-carry business, the country's fourth-biggest retailer behind X5, Magnit and French chain Auchan.

Metro operates 72 stores in Russia and achieved sales of 183 billion roubles ($5 billion) in 2013.

Europe's fourth-biggest retailer, which is restructuring a sprawling empire to focus on cash-and-carry and consumer electronics, also planned to use some of the IPO proceeds to reduce debt, which stood at 2.4 billion euros on Dec. 31.

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