Cannes Lions owner Ascential announces plan to float

The owner of the Cannes Lions advertising festival has announced plans to float on the stock market for up to £1bn.

Ascential, which recently changed its name from Top Right, owns assets including 17 magazines such as Drapers and Architects’ Journal as well as environmental data business Groundsure, Glenigan and fashion information business WGSN.

The business is owned by private equity group Apax and Guardian Media Group (GMG), parent of the Guardian and Observer, which owns a 32.9 per cent stake.

Ascential plans to raise £200m from the initial public offering. If it is successful the business could have a market capitalisation of more than £800m.

The £200m will be used to pay down the company’s debt, which stands at £410m, according to the last publicly available figures.

It is not clear how much of their shareholdings each owner will sell in the initial public offering, but it is likely to result in a windfall of hundreds of millions of pounds.

In January 2014, GMG made about £600m from the sale of its remaining 50.1 per cent stake in Auto Trader, which it also owned as a joint venture with Apax. 

The decision to float Ascential comes after several months of talks about a potential sale of the business to a number of private equity firms.

Ascential’s most recent public financial filing shows that the business made adjusted profits of £85.3m in 2014, a 27 per cent year-on-year rise, as revenues rose 9 per cent to £312m.

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Source: The Guardian

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