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UPDATE 1-SoftwareONE set to price Swiss IPO at 18 Sfr/share - bookrunner

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ZURICH, Oct 24 (Reuters) - Swiss software management company SoftwareONE is expected to price its initial public offering at 18 Swiss francs per share, a bookrunner for the deal said on Thursday.

Price guidance had narrowed to 17.75-19.00 francs, implying an equity value of 2.7 billion to 2.9 billion Swiss francs ($2.73-2.93 billion) for the company.

Books close on Thursday, with the stock set to start trading on the SIX Swiss Exchange on Friday.

The IPO consists of secondary shares, with the firm's founders retaining the largest stake of around 31% and financial investor KKR, which bought a 25% stake in 2015, retaining around 15%.

The free float is set to be around 24%, or 28% if an overallotment option is fully exercised, the company said this month.

SoftwareONE helps companies manage an estimated 10 billion euros ($11.1 billion) in software purchases from vendors such as Microsoft, Adobe and IBM.

The 20-year-old company's gross profit rose to 724 million Swiss francs in 2018 from 571 million francs in 2016, while its adjusted EBITDA margin rose to 33% from 17%.

Founding shareholders, including Chairman Daniel von Stockar, and KKR will remain represented on the board of directors.

KKR and the company founders are hoping to benefit from a Swiss stock market that is at near record highs, with the broad Swiss Performance Index up about 24% this year.

Credit Suisse, J.P. Morgan and UBS are joint global coordinators and joint bookrunners, while BNP Paribas, Citi, Deutsche Bank, Unicredit and Zuercher Kantonalbank are acting as joint bookrunners.

Rothschild & Co is acting as financial adviser to SoftwareONE.

($1 = 0.9906 Swiss francs)

($1 = 0.8976 euros) (Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by Silke Koltrowitz and Deepa Babington)