EQT Partners Is Said to Consider IPO in Strategic Review

(Bloomberg) -- EQT Partners is considering an initial public offering as the Swedish private equity firm looks for ways to strengthen its balance sheet, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The largest buyout firm in the Nordic region is also considering attracting an external investor as a part of a broader strategic review, said the person, asking not to be identified as the details aren’t public. EQT isn’t considering selling the entire business, the person said. The deliberations are at an early stage, and EQT won’t make a formal decision before the second half of 2019, the person said.

A representative for the company declined to comment. Chief Executive Officer Thomas von Koch said in a statement on the firm’s website on Monday that EQT has “decided to review options to further strengthen EQT’s balance sheet.”

“We need a stronger balance sheet to support EQT’s continued global growth and make us resilient to weather tougher times,” he said.

As part of the review, EQT has also made two senior appointments to its board of directors. Edith Cooper, formerly head of human capital management at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., and Gordon Orr, a senior adviser at McKinsey & Co., will join EQT’s board immediately, according to the statement. Cooper is based in New York and Orr in Hong Kong, according to their LinkedIn profiles.

Large European private equity listings are rare and the companies that sell shares tend to be diversified, offering services such as credit, infrastructure and real estate investments as well as buyout activities. Large publicly traded peers in Europe include: 3i Group Plc, which listed in 1994 and is little changed this year; France’s Eurazeo SA, which has declined 12 percent this year; and Switzerland’s Partners Group Holding AG, up 15 percent.

EQT has grown internationally and has added venture capital, real estate, infrastructure and credit to its repertoire since its inception in 1994, and sees a strengthened balance sheet as a prerequisite for continued growth, the person said.

In July, EQT agreed to acquire the infrastructure software business SUSE from Micro Focus International Plc for $2.54 billion in cash. Other EQT investments include Siemens AG’s former audiology unit Sivantos and Swiss travel company Kuoni Reisen Holding AG.

EQT has raised about 50 billion euros ($58 billion) and 27 funds since it was started more than 20 years ago. Investor AB, founded by the wealthy Wallenberg family, is the firm’s anchor investor with an ownership of about 10 percent in its most recent funds, according to EQT’s website.

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