On February 8, 2016, Ascential plc announced the successful pricing of its initial public offering at 200p per share, giving the company a market capitalization of £800 million. Moelis & Company acted as the independent advisor to Guardian Media Group (GMG) on Ascential’s IPO, which resulted in total proceeds of £322 million, including the greenshoe.
Ascential, an information and events company jointly owned by Apax Partners and GMG, operates through two segments: Exhibitions & Festivals and Information Services. The company owns a portfolio of businesses including the Cannes Lions advertising festival, the financial services event Money 20/20 and the global fashion trend forecasting service WGSN.
Conditional trading commenced on the London Stock Exchange on February 9, 2016 under the ticker ASCL. Moelis & Company advised GMG in relation to the initial price range of 190p – 220p and the stock traded up +1.0% to 202p at the opening of trading in the context of highly volatile markets. The valuation at the IPO price was in line with key peers. Of the £322 million of proceeds raised, £122 million were secondary proceeds and £200 million were primary proceeds, reducing leverage from 4.8x to 2.6x 2015 EBITDA.
The IPO represented a comeback to the public markets for Ascential, which was acquired by GMG and Apax Partners LP for £1.0 billion in 2008. Moelis & Company acted as the independent advisor to GMG in relation to its partial exit from Ascential, advising first on the M&A alternative and subsequently on Ascential’s IPO.