Business

Saga shares close flat on debut

Saga head office in Folkestone Image copyright Saga

Shares in over-50s insurer and holidays firm Saga closed at their opening price on their stock exchange debut.

The shares were priced at 185 pence, at the bottom of the 185-245p range announced earlier this month, and traded as high as 195p in conditional trading.

Almost 300 million shares were issued, representing 27% of the overall value of the business.

At the offer price, the company was valued at £2.1bn.

Saga is one of many companies listing on the stock market this year.

Investor fatigue?

Earlier on Friday, Easyhotel became the latest company to announce plans to float its shares, and this followed a raft of flotation announcements on Thursday - including property website Zoopla, airline Wizz Air and discount retailer B&M.

Already this year, companies such as Poundland, Pets at Home, AO World and the owner of Patisserie Valerie have floated on the London market.

"The key difference to last year is that IPOs [initial public offerings] are being priced at the lower end of their ranges due to concerns over market valuations," said James Butterfill, global equity strategist at bankers Coutts.

However, there have been signs that appetite among investors for some of these flotations might be beginning to wane.

On Thursday, Fat Face abandoned its flotation plans blaming current market conditions.

Also Saga's shares were priced at the bottom of its indicated range, although the company said earlier this week it had seen "exceptional" demand from retail investors.

"Amid the UK IPO fever, concerns have emerged that investors may be suffering from flotation fatigue," said Mr Butterfill.

Customer demand

Saga is set to raise about £550m through the flotation. Half of the shares on offer are going to retail investors, with a "substantial majority" of these going to its customers.

The company said that applications for the minimum amount of £1,000 of shares would be met in full, and more than two-thirds of retail investors had been granted at least 50% of the shares they had applied for.

Saga's executive chairman Andrew Goodsell said: "We have been very pleased with the level of demand for Saga shares from both retail and institutional investors, with the offer subscribed several times over."

"We are delighted to have so many of our customers as shareholders and to have a high quality group of core institutions who we believe will be long-term supporters of the business."

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