Knorr-Bremse Plans IPO as Billionaire Owner Hands Over Wheel

(Bloomberg) -- Knorr-Bremse AG has opted to list shares in Frankfurt later this year after majority billionaire owner Heinz Hermann Thiele explored a range of strategic options for one of the world’s largest makers of truck and train brakes.

The initial public offering of existing stock is expected to include the indirect holdings of Thiele and his family, who will retain a majority stake, the Munich, Germany-based manufacturer said Monday in an emailed statement. The sale is slated for the fourth quarter.

As much as 25 percent of the company could be listed in a transaction that could value the entire business at 10 billion euros ($12 billion) or more, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg News in June.

“An IPO is the right next step for us,” Chief Executive Officer Klaus Deller said in the statement, which didn’t value the company or say what proportion would be sold. “It will give Knorr-Bremse a stable strategic and financial base.”

The planned listing is set to broaden Knorr-Bremse’s ownership base after decades of domination by the reclusive 77-year-old Thiele. Founded in 1905, the company was taken over by Thiele in 1985. After restructuring the business, he expanded its global presence to more than 100 sites in more than 30 countries and built up a workforce of about 29,000.

His deliberations about Knorr-Bremse’s future, dubbed internally as “Project Goal,” have been part of a plan to hand ownership of the business generating 6.24 billion euros in annual sales to his daughter. Net income at the Munich-based company was 850 million euros last year.

Knorr-Bremse said Deutsche Bank AG, J.P. Morgan Securities and Morgan Stanley & Co. International will act as joint global coordinators and joint bookrunners, confirming a Bloomberg News report from December last year. Joh. Berenberg, Gossler & Co. KG, Commerzbank AG, UBS Limited and UniCredit Bank AG will act as joint bookrunners.

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