Biffa cuts share price to secure London listing

Biffa staff collecting bins Image copyright Biffa

Waste management group Biffa has slashed the price of its shares to keep its stock market listing on track.

The firm said shares would be sold at 180p each, up to a third less than the expected price range of 220p to 270p.

Biffa chief executive Ian Wakelin said the stock market listing was "a significant milestone" for the company.

The UK's second-largest waste management group, which employs more than 7,000 staff, announced plans for the flotation in September.

The 100-year-old company has not had its shares listed on the stock market since 2008, when it was bought by a group of private equity firms.

Analysis: Simon Jack, Business Editor

This should be a fantastic time to sell shares. After all the FTSE 100 is hovering near record highs, so why has waste management company Biffa been forced to offer a discount on the shares it is selling?

It is not the only one to scale back its ambitions. Software firm Misys has cut the amount it hopes to raise by £1bn, while several other companies have decided to shelve their plans to list on the stock market - at least for now.

Meanwhile in the US, floats - or IPOs - are going gangbusters, with Snapchat about to sell a slice of the company that would value the whole around 20 billion.

So what's going on. City sources tell me there are a few concerns about new flotations in general. Companies that have previously been owned by private investors typically owe more money to their banks as they were acquired in the first place with borrowed money.

Second, their track record of making profits is either shorter or less transparent than established public companies.

Third, in the case of Biffa, the company is UK focused and relies on the public sector for a chunk of its revenue - an uncertain income stream going into a period where the public finances are likely to be shaken up by the upcoming Autumn statement.

Add all that to general disquiet about prospects for the UK economy and it's enough to make investors think twice - or a least want a discount - before buying anything new.

The flotation, which is expected to raise about £262m, comes at a difficult time for investors. Many are wary of committing cash amid the fall in the pound and until the details of the UK's exit from the EU are clearer.

Last week, fitness chain Pure Gym blamed "market volatility" for its decision to abandon its London stock market flotation.

Vehicle parts manufacturer TI Fluid Systems also cited "uncertain market conditions" for its decision to postpone its float.

And earlier this month, doughnut maker Krispy Kreme UK announced it was being bought by its American parent, instead of going ahead with a London stock market listing thought to be worth about £200m.

Biffa said the price for the share sale would value it at £450m, and its shares are expected to start full trading on Thursday.

It plans to use the money raised from the float to reduce debt and pay HMRC in connection with a dispute over landfill tax.

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