LIBERTY SURF TO GO PUBLIC
Byline: Katherine Weisman
PARIS — Liberty Surf, a free Internet service provider owned jointly by Europ@web — Bernard Arnault’s Internet investment vehicle — and British retailer Kingfisher, disclosed Thursday it will go public on the Paris Bourse March 16 for between $35.50 and $41 per share.
The stock deal will be made by issuing a maximum of 12.6 million new shares in Liberty Surf, and could raise as much as $532 million, based on current rates of exchange.
In a separate development, Liberty Surf and The X-Stream Network Inc. said Thursday that they have entered into a merger agreement whereby Liberty Surf will acquire the 90 percent of X-Stream that it does not already own for $68.35 million.
That deal values X-Stream at $75.35 million, and will bring together a leading provider of free Internet access in the U.K., X-Stream, with one in France. The X-Stream Network, launched in March 1998, was the U.K’s first free ISP.
X-Stream recently launched its services in Norway, Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands, while Liberty Surf, as noted, has been laying plans to expand in northern Europe.
The board of X-Stream has unanimously approved the merger deal, and holders of a majority of X-Stream’s shares have also approved it.
As for Liberty Surf’s IPO, the listing will result in a maximum of 85.8 million shares outstanding, which values the 11 month-old firm at as much as $3.6 billion.
Deutsche Bank is the lead adviser to the offer.
There are currently 73,259,540 Liberty Surf shares outstanding. Roughly 10.9 million new shares will be issued in a capital increase while an additional 1.6 million shares, in the form of equity warrants, could be exercised by Deutsche Bank.
The IPO plans were disclosed in a statement by France’s stock market watchdog group, the Commission des Operations de Bourse.
A spokeswoman for Liberty Surf was unable to answer questions related to the offering Thursday. More information will be forthcoming at a Liberty Surf press conference slated to be held here this morning.