$439 Million OzForex IPO Sparks Speculation Down Under – Will Pepperstone Be Next?

After a two year lull during which financial sector IPOs in Australia were few and far between, OzForex, a deliverable

To sell or not to sell, that is the question. Flotation of high-value Australian financial services companies on the national stock exchange, the ASX, have been notable for their relative absence over the last two years, which is why this morning’s Initial Public Offering (IPO) by OzForex, a deliverable foreign exchange firm, for AUD $439 million has resulted in industry speculation as to which firm is next.

Confidence Spurred By High Valuation

OzForex is a provider of international money transfers, with its operations based in Sydney, Australia.

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According to the actual IPO itself, the company intends to sell 219.7 million shares at AUD $2 each, which represents 91.5% of the entire shares held by the company.

Due to the ASX having been devoid of such activity within recent times, the media interest surrounding it has made other firms in the region the subject of commentary. One of which is Pepperstone, which the Wall Street Journal today inferred, is now in the M&A spotlight, especially when considering the profitability of OzForex, which in the 12 months to June 30 this year, made a profit of $17.1 million on 460,000 international deliverable FX payment transactions worth $9.1 billion.

No Private Equity Pressure

Forex Magnates spoke to Owen Kerr, CEO of Pepperstone today, in order to ascertain his perspective on whether the high profile IPO submitted by OzForex, will spur the company into accepting an offer for a merger or acquisition, especially bearing in mind that the company has been quietly courting potential suitors during the last year.

Mr. Kerr explained that, “Everyone is excited about a new IPO, especially one such as that of OzForex. The company has gone to IPO with a valuation 21 times forward earnings.”

“During the course of going to IPO, OzForex wanted my perspective on it, and they got interested in us. I then said the valuation was a bit rich, and they probed a bit deeper. They were interested in the M&A experience that we have from having explored various avenues over the recent past,” continued Mr. Kerr.

“We have been approached in the past by various firms, and the recent overseas M&A activity such as the thwarted takeover of GAIN Capital by FXCM earlier this year, and the ensuing GFT acquisition by FXCM after pulling out of acquiring GAIN, plus a few other new firms coming to market, have been events which have generated interest.”

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Mr. Kerr confirmed that at this stage, the company does not have any plan to accept any merger or acquisition that is currently the subject of speculation, but on the other hand, explained that, “Pepperstone is not closing the door on other offers that it may receive, and are open to other offers. We are interested in the potential and future.”

It could be said that the company, which handles around US$71 billion worth of trades each month on behalf of around 25,000 clients, is well positioned for an investor, as it has made significant inroads into the Asia-Pacific region by opening a representative office in Shanghai earlier this year, a region which is of great interest to FX market participants, as well as having diversified its offering just this month by launching cTrader.

The company released its volume figures to Forex Magnates for the last three months, which equate to  $66.9 billion for June, $76.12 billion for July and $71.92 billion for August, representing an average over the period of $71.6 billion.

With the addition of cTrader having occurred very recently, the percentage of volumes across the platforms which the company offers at this stage, applies to its proprietary platform and MetaTrader 4 and 5. Pepperstone confirmed to Forex Magnates that 96% of the company’s entire volume took place on the MetaTrader 4 and 5 platforms, with no activity at all on the proprietary platform, and 4% via the recently upgraded Sirix WebTrader platform and its mobile platform combined.

The trading volumes conducted on Pepperstone’s WebTrader and mobile platforms over the months of June, July and August were $2.68 billion, $1.3 billion and $1.05 billion respectively.

Owen Kerr, CEO of Pepperstone
Owen Kerr, CEO of Pepperstone

“We are in no rush to do any deal with anyone, we don’t want private equity pushing us into an IPO, therefore, can take our time to identify the right offer, if such an offer materializes,” explained Mr. Kerr.

According to Mr. Kerr, OzForex is expected to list on the ASX in about a week’s time. The company had been the subject of some very strong backing, as Australian-based international banking giant, Macquarie invested in the company a while ago, having initially owned approximately 50%. Currently, this has reduced somewhat, as Macquarie sold part of its stake holding to US private equity firm Accel, with a 22.7 per cent shareholding, and Washington-based Carlyle Group, with a 20.4 per cent stake, leaving Macquarie to retain 19.9 per cent equity holding.

All of these firms, plus Carboni Ltd. which maintains a 1.9% interest, will sell all of their stock in the IPO.

Subsequent to the listing, OzForex’s leadership team are eligible to a $5.3 million cash payment.

Goldman Sachs Group and Macquarie are managing the IPO and will be paid a base fee of 2.5 per cent of the total offer proceeds, or potentially $10.9 million. The two investment banks could also get an incentive fee of 1.5 per cent of total offer proceeds. Goldman and Macquarie’s costs associated with the IPO will also be reimbursed.

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