HNA cancels IPO plans for airline caterer gategroup

28th March 2018 (Last Updated March 28th, 2018 10:46)

China’s HNA Group has abandoned its plans for an initial public offering (IPO) of Switzerland-based inflight caterer gategroup.

HNA cancels IPO plans for airline caterer gategroup
gategroup serves food to airlines. Credit: Erol Ahmed, Unsplash.

China’s HNA Group has abandoned its plans for an initial public offering (IPO) of Switzerland-based inflight caterer gategroup.

The reason for the cancellation has been stated as ‘a gap in valuation under current market conditions’. The company wanted to raise up to CHF1.3bn ($1.4bn) after selling  a 65% stake in the airline caterer.

Employing 43,000 people, gategroup was listed in Switzerland before it was acquired by HNA for $1.5bn in 2016.

The funds raised through the IPO would have helped HNA to tackle the liquidity crunch after $50bn in acquisitions.

“We will continue to implement our Gateway 2020 strategy, which has allowed us to double results over the past two years.”

A sale of new shares would have helped the company raise another CHF350m ($370.7m) for gategroup.

Bookbuilding for the IPO commenced earlier this month, with the price of a share being targeted at CHF16 to 21, which would mean a total market capitalisation of about CHF2.1bn to CHF2.6bn ($2.8bn).

A source familiar with the IPO plan told Reuters that if the price range had been slightly lower, it would have seen sufficient demand.

gategroup CEO Xavier Rossinyol said: “We will continue to implement our Gateway 2020 strategy, which has positioned gategroup as the market leader and allowed us to double results over the past two years. We remain committed to continue generating value for our customers and shareholders.”

Based at Zurich airport, gategroup has become a multi-billion dollar business following mergers and acquisitions including with SAS Service Partner, Aero-Chef, Iber-Swiss, VARIG Kitchens and British Airways Kitchens. Its brands include Gate Gourmet, Harmony, deSter and Performa.

With 200 operating units, gategroup has presence in 60 countries and territories. It annually serves over 700 million passengers.

(CHF = Swiss francs)