Bridgepoint IPO Spreads Riches as Over 100 Employees Cash In

Investor appetite for private equity just made Bridgepoint Group Ltd.’s employees millions of pounds richer.

Bridgepoint’s initial public offering saw 166 individual investors in the British buyout firm make 380 million pounds ($520 million) from selling shares -- a spread that contrasts sharply with U.S. peers that have previously gone public. Employees and their families made up the bulk of those sellers, according to the pricing document and Bloomberg calculations.

Bridgepoint’s surge in debut trading on Wednesday means existing individual investors now hold stock worth 2.1 billion pounds. The shares closed up 29% in London.

The investor breadth meant there were no overnight billionaires in the IPO, which raised 789 million pounds for the firm and its shareholders. The biggest known individual winner was Partner and Head of France and Southern Europe Frederic Pescatori, who sold around 16.5 million pounds of stock and still holds a 2.3% stake worth about 85 million pounds, the calculations show. Chairman William Jackson cashed out around 8 million pounds and keeps a 1.1% stake.

Few other individual investors were identified in the document as none held a level of shares that required disclosure. That indicates an old-fashioned partnership model at odds with the billionaire minting factories of U.S. listed private equity firms like Blackstone Group Inc. or Apollo Global Management Inc., where a handful of executives held significant stakes following their IPOs.

Bridgepoint’s biggest shareholder, Dyal Capital Partners, now part of Blue Owl Capital Inc., sold 109 million pounds of shares and still holds an about 600 million-pound stake. Dyal, which buys minority positions in private equity firms, invested in Bridgepoint in 2018 for 328 million pounds. The firm has since more than doubled its money.

Fidelity International, T. Rowe Price Group Inc. and Mawer Investment Management bought 300 million pounds of the offering as cornerstone investors, and were sitting on paper gains of more than 85 million pounds after the first day of trading.

Bridgepoint is among several private equity companies that have been looking at going public. Antin Infrastructure Partners is considering a listing and TPG is weighing a potential IPO or merger with a special purpose acquisition company, people with knowledge of the matter have said. Closely held firms have been grappling with how to provide exits for founders and managers, while also ensuring rising stars can monetize their stakes.

The rare IPO by a buyout firm caps a remarkable journey since a management carve out from Royal Bank of Scotland Group in 2000. Jackson is one of Bridgepoint’s few remaining original executives, and it wasn’t clear from the disclosures whether the 166 individual investors included others from that founding period.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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