First Data Corporation (NYSE:FDC) has officially begun live trading with lukewarm demand and volumes, despite the launch of its $2.5 billion initial public offering (IPO), the largest US IPO in 2015 thus far.
First Data is a payment technology company that handles a wide range of services including credit card processing. The group is a subsidiary of American multinational private equity firm KKR & Co., which back in 2014 managed to raise $3.5 billion in equity, having sourced primarily from new investors.
The IPO news surrounding First Data is the third instance of a leading payments provider this week, with Worldpay, Equiniti pushing ahead with IPO plans on the London Stock Exchange. Alternatively, Jack Dorsey, the Chief Executive Officer of Twitter, moved ahead with his IPO plans for Square (NYSE:SQ), the payments startup he founded back in 2009.
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As for the ladder instance, many investors were eying the opening performance and reception of First Data as a bellwether indicator for the upcoming Square debut – unfortunately for proponents of an outperformance in the First Data IPO, the early returns were hardly groundbreaking.
First Data had sold approximately 160 million shares for a figure of $16.00, though when the dust settled at the closing bell Thursday, shares dipped -1.6% to $15.75. Far from a disaster, the result is hardly optimistic, given the widespread hype driving the IPO in recent months. Indeed, the largest IPO on the NYSE this year was ticketed for a much better opening. Some creeping doubts set in when Barclays, the NYSE Designated Market Maker First Data, sold shares for $16, well below its initial $18-20.00 offer that had received tepid interest.
Furthermore, initial returns and investor interest were mitigated by First Data’s balance sheet. As recently as June 2015, the group had accumulated $21.0 billion in debt, however, proceeds from the offering will promptly be allocated to paying off – the propensity from such a bloated debt ratio was due in large part to a 2007 leveraged bailout.
According to Frank Bisignano, Chairman and CEO of First Data, in a recent statement on the IPO launch, “Today marks the start of an exciting new chapter for First Data. We have undergone a major transformation in the past two years. We have built a client-centric business in which our primary focus is to help our clients grow their business. The initial public offering is another step in our transformation, and we appreciate the support we received from such a high quality group of new shareholders.”