KKR-Backed Pub Operator Halts $276 Million Sydney IPO

Australian Venue Co. has shelved a planned initial public offering in Sydney over concerns that the coronavirus pandemic could cloud the pub operator’s business outlook, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Melbourne-based company told prospective investors that it’s withdrawing its first-time share sale, which could have raised A$352 million ($276 million), said the people, who asked not to be identified as the information is private. The company also decided to halt the offering amid potentially weak demand from investors, the people said.

Australian Venue and its existing shareholder KKR & Co. have no plans to relaunch the offering this year, one of the people said.

The postponement comes a week after Australian Venue launched its IPO, which could have been Australia’s fourth biggest this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Sydney and its surrounding areas extended restrictions on gatherings for another week after health officials said on Sunday that they were unable to identify how a man in the community caught Covid-19.

Australian Venue runs about 175 pubs, bars and venues across Australia and New Zealand. Citigroup Inc., Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and KKR Capital Markets are the joint lead managers of its offering.

The Australian Financial Review reported Australian Venue’s IPO delay on Sunday. A representative for the company declined to comment.

Despite Australian Venue’s withdrawal, the Australian IPO market is still on track for one of the busiest starts to a year. Companies have priced more than $2 billion of first-time share sales so far in 2021, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Pepper Money Ltd. a non-bank lender backed by KKR, expanded its offering last week to A$500 million.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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