LIBERTY SURF EXPECTED TO GIVE MORE INFO ON ITS IPO
PARIS — Liberty Surf, a free Internet service provider owned jointly by Europ@web — the Internet investment vehicle of luxury titan Bernard Arnault — and U.K. retailer Kingfisher, is expected to reveal details Friday of its upcoming public offering.
Plans by Deutsche Bank to list 20 percent of Liberty Surf on a French stock exchange were made public on Jan. 17 by Liberty Surf president Pierre Besnainou, as noted. At that time, industry analysts estimated the value of Liberty Surf at roughly $1.6 billion, but some reports have put the valuation at nearly $2.5 billion. A spokeswoman for the Internet service provider declined to comment on the figures.
Launched in France last April, Liberty Surf counted 620,000 subscribers as of Dec. 31. The company is 45 percent-owned by Europ@web and 45 percent-owned by Kingfisher; the remaining 10 percent stake is held by Liberty Surf management.
Liberty Surf also holds a majority-stake in X-Stream, Britain’s third-largest Internet service provider.
Currently, Liberty Surf operates in France, Germany and the U.K., and plans to expand into northern European markets.
Separately, Europ@web now owns 16.8 percent of Artprice.com, an art auction information database that went public on France’s Nouveau Marche in January.
Europ@web’s new stake, down from an original investment of 20 percent taken last November, follows Artprice.com’s public offering and a new shareholders’ pact signed with Artprice.com founder Thierry Ehrmann, according to information released Wednesday by the Conseil des Marches Financiers, an institution that oversees the French stock exchanges.
This 10-year shareholders’ agreement stipulates that Serveur, the Ehrmann family holding company, holds 60.48 percent of Artprice.com while Thierry Hermann holds a .49 percent stake, in addition to Europ@web’s minority stake. This pact can be terminated if the Erhmann family’s stake falls to less than 35 percent of the capital or voting rights of Artprice.com.