© Reuters.

By Simon Jessop

LONDON (Reuters) -Private equity firm Bridgepoint plans to list on the London Stock Exchange, raising at least 300 million pounds ($416 million) from new shares to help fund its growth plans and pay down debt, it said on Tuesday.

The decision to list follows a buoyant few years for private markets as more investors turn to them for yield in a world of central bank-suppressed interest rates.

Private equity deals have risen in Britain this year, prompting questions from some public shareholders and newspapers about whether buyout firms are taking advantage of COVID-19 and Brexit to snap up companies at cut-price valuations.

Bridgepoint, which focuses on mid-sized deals of up to 1 billion euros ($1.2 billion), was formed in 2000 after a management buyout of NatWest’s private equity arm.

The firm’s investments include Asia-inspired dining chain Itsu, cycle retailer Wiggle, and Burger King’s France and UK outposts.

The company, which manages 27.4 billion euros across a range of private equity and debt funds, aims to have a free-float of at least 25% and expects an over-allotment option of a further 15% of the offer size, it said.

It said it would sell 300 million pounds of new shares as well as see some existing investors sell down their holdings.

The total share sale is likely to raise around 500 million pounds and could value the company at around 2 billion pounds, a source familiar with the deal said.

JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley (NYSE:) are joint global co-ordinators on the deal.

Bridgepoint’s total operating income was 191.8 million pounds in 2020 and it said “significant further profitable growth” was recorded in the first quarter of this fiscal year.

“Over the last 30 years we’ve built the global leader in middle market growth investing, with strength and depth across two very complementary strategies in private equity and private credit,” said Bridgepoint’s Executive Chair William Jackson.

“Today, Bridgepoint has an increasingly global footprint across Europe, North America and Asia. We expect this strong growth to continue in the near and longer-term as we continue to develop our existing strategies and further broaden our platform.”

($1 = 0.8391 euros)

($1 = 0.7210 pounds)

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