Business

Upper Crust food firm SSP to raise £500m on stock market

Upper Crust
Image caption SSP owns almost 2,000 food kiosk outlets including Upper Crust

Food outlet operator SSP is seeking to raise up to £500m by floating its shares on the London Stock Exchange.

The firm, which owns almost 2,000 food kiosks in airports and train stations including Upper Crust and Caffe Ritazza, is led by former WH Smith chief executive Kate Swann.

"An IPO [initial public offering] is the appropriate next step for a business of SSP's calibre, size and international scale," said Ms Swann.

SSP will use the money to reduce debts.

The group, which serves around a million customers a day, said it expected to issue new shares in the coming weeks.

SSP was spun out of catering giant Compass in 2006 and then bought by Scandinavian private equity group, EQT.

The statement said the listing would enable EQT to partially realise its investment in SSP.

However, it said EQT would also agree to hold onto some of its shares for specific periods of time as part of a lock-up agreement.

Tricky

SSP, which runs outlets in 29 countries and employs 30,000 people, also operates outlets for Burger King, Costa and Marks & Spencer.

SSP's plans come at a difficult time for flotations.

Several companies have joined - or announced plans to join - the stock market in recent weeks, and there has been much debate about whether investors still have a strong appetite to buy shares in new listings.

Clothing chain Fat Face pulled its planned London listing last month, while shares in insurance-to-holidays firm Saga have fallen below their listing price.

On Monday, the Hungarian low cost airline Wizz Air cancelled plans to list on the London stock market citing "market volatility in the airline sector".

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