Mo­bile gi­ant O2 de­lays its flota­tion un­til af­ter Brexit

Belfast Telegraph - Business Telegraph - - News - BY RAVEN­DER SEM­BHY

THE £10bn stock mar­ket flota­tion of mo­bile op­er­a­tor O2 has been put on hold un­til af­ter Brexit as par­ent firm Tele­fon­ica holds fire in the wake of mar­ket uncer­tainty and a re­cent spate of IPO flops.

An ini­tial pub­lic of­fer­ing had been ex­pected in 2018 fol­low­ing 4G and 5G spec­trum auc­tions in April, but peo­ple with knowl­edge of the mat­ter told the Press As­so­ci­a­tion that those plans are firmly on ice.

Wor­ries over Brexit and the re­cent IPO fail­ures of Fund­ing Cir­cle and As­ton Martin, which sank on their stock mar­ket de­buts ear­lier this month, are thought to have con­vinced bosses at Tele­fon­ica to sit tight.

Tele­fon­ica chief ex­ec­u­tive Jose Maria Al­varez-pal­lete said ear­lier this year that fi­nan­cial mar­kets were not yet ready for an O2 float, an opin­ion re­in­forced by sub­se­quent events.

Its de­lay will cause fur­ther con­ster­na­tion as volatil­ity, uncer­tainty and a per­ceived lack of in­vestor ap­petite weigh on the list­ings pipe­line.

Ac­coun­tancy gi­ant EY has pre­vi­ously said that Brexit uncer­tainty is cast­ing a “shadow” over the Lon­don IPO mar­ket.

O2’s float is one of the most hotly an­tic­i­pated, with an­a­lysts valu­ing the UK’S sec­ond largest mo­bile firm at up to £10bn. The firm booked oper­at­ing profit of €879m (£776m) in the first half of the year.

Tele­fon­ica first re­vealed that it would ex­plore a Lon­don-list­ing of O2 in 2016 af­ter see­ing a tie-up with ri­val op­er­a­tor Three col­lapse over com­pe­ti­tion con­cerns.

It had been await­ing the out­come of a ra­dio spec­trum sale.

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