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Blockbuster EQT debut bucks lackluster PE IPO trend

Andrew Woodman

In an impressive public market debut, Swedish private equity firm

EQT saw its shares gain more than 30% in its first day of trading on

Nasdaq Stockholm. Its share price jumped from 67 Swedish kronor (around $6.93) to 90 Swedish kronor by the end of the day.

EQT's market cap, meanwhile, soared from 63.8 billion Swedish kronor to 85.7 billion Swedish kronor. The offering, which was more than 10 times oversubscribed and priced at the top end of the indicative range, is one of the largest involving a private equity firm in years.

Not only is EQT's IPO one of the strongest European debuts this year, but it has also broken something of a curse afflicting PE firms going public. Back in 2012, both

Oaktree Capital Management and

The Carlyle Group had lackluster IPOs, while

Apollo Global Management CEO Leon Black reportedly said at the Bloomberg Invest Conference in June that he regretted taking his company public back in 2011. EQT's listing also dwarfs that of another European PE firm that listed recently,

Tikehau Capital, which achieved a market cap of €1.5 billion (around $1.65 billion) in 2017.

"The IPO of EQT has reached the finishing line, but for us, this is merely a watering station en route into the future," said Conni Jonsson, chairman and founder of EQT, in a statement.

The PE firm, being one of Europe's largest and oldest, is something of an outlier. Founded in 1994, EQT evolved from an exclusively Nordic-focused GP—serving essentially as a family office for the Wallenberg family of industrialists—to Europe's second-largest PE firm with around €40 billion in assets under management. It closed its first fund on 3.2 billion Swedish kronor in 1995 and its eighth flagship vehicle gathered €10.75 billion last year. The firm generated 1H 2019 revenue of €295.2 million and EBITDA of €140 million, and conducts business through offices across 15 countries.

The float, which represents 20% of business, gives EQT 5.8 billion Swedish kronor in new capital before issue costs are factored in. Following the sale, Investor AB—the investment vehicle of the founding family, the Wallenbergs—owns 18.5% of the firm, but said it may sell as many as 2.5 million shares by October.

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