Cannes Lions owner launches $1.2 billion IPO

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Ascential's top executives are due for a big payday

LONDON — Senior managers at Cannes Lions owner Ascential are in line for multimillion pound share windfalls after it confirmed the pricing of its £800 million ($1.16 billion) debut on the London stock exchange.

Ascential CEO Duncan Painter, who has been in the job since 2011, will have 3.5 million shares worth over £7 million ($10.1 million) at the float price of 200p ($2.88) a share.

Philip Thomas, who heads Cannes Lions division Lions Festivals, will get 975,000 shares worth almost £2 million.

Natasha Christie-Miller, boss of publishing arm Plexus, formerly known as Emap, who oversees brands including Retail Week and Nursing Times, will get 683,0500 shares worth nearly £1.4 million.

Thomas is selling 20% of his stake, and Christie-Miller is offloading 10% of her holding.

Trading in the shares on the London stock market is due to begin on Friday despite recent jitters about the Chinese economic slowdown.

The IPO comprises 139,950,000 shares, representing 35% of Ascential’s issued shared capital on admission. The company is raising about £183.2 million of net proceeds in the offer, after deducting underwriting costs and other expenses. 

Guardian Media Group, which owns 32.9% of Ascential, and private equity group Apax, which owns about two-thirds, will sell a 25% stake in the company worth about £80 million. 

Apax and GMG paid about £1.1 billion in 2008 to buy the group, then known as Emap, just before the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

Cannes Lions, the annual festival for the advertising and creative industries, is seen as one of the most prized assets in the Ascential empire, which also owns the trade titles DrapersNursing Times and Retail Week, as well as the retail data company WGSN. 

Painter said: "I am very pleased with the response we have received from investors towards our company, our products and our IPO.  

"This recognition stands as testament to the hard work of our people, each of whom can take pride in the industry-leading company they have helped to build. 

"As we move forward as a listed company, our focus will not change. We will continue to put our customers first, supporting them with market leading products specifically designed to help them secure their own growth and success."

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