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Big step forward for Dr. Martens as shares jump in $5 billion London debut

·2-min read

By Simon Jessop and Abhinav Ramnarayan

LONDON (Reuters) - Classic boot brand Dr. Martens kicked off its London IPO in style on Friday, attracting bumper demand in a sale valuing the company at more than $5 billion that is likely to spur other British companies to follow suit.

Dr. Martens' shares were up 16% in their market debut after the company priced the deal at the top of an indicative range at 370 pence, raising nearly 1.3 billion pounds and giving it a market capitalisation of 3.7 billion pounds ($5.07 billion).

Dr. Martens, known for its chunky boots with yellow stitching, is the first of several British IPO candidates to hit the market, as issuers look to make up for 2020 when COVID-19 wreaked havoc on economies and dented stock market listing volumes in Europe.

The IPO also marks a major win for Dr Martens majority owner, private equity firm Permira, which bought the company in 2014 for 380 million euros ($460.10 million).

"We have been delighted by the strong levels of interest, engagement and support from such a high quality selection of institutional investors," said Dr Martens Chief Executive Kenny Wilson.

The offer was eight times oversubscribed, the company said in a statement.

"This is a brand business not a retail business and it is very global - it's not a UK high street name so the impact of Brexit and Covid is far less," a source familiar with the transaction said.

One investor who bought into the IPO said that Dr Martens longstanding presence in the market since 1960s was an attractive factor but the valuation suggested by Friday's share price boost was "punchy".

"Now they have to improve the presence and the penetration in emerging markets, especially China, to justify that," she added.

Dr Martens' listing follows that of Polish locker business InPost, which listed in Amsterdam on Wednesday with a valuation of 9.5 billion euros ($11.50 billion) and jumped 20% on its debut.

In Britain, e-card retailer Moonpig is also planning a London IPO, while others such as Deliveroo and Darktrace are expected to announce listing plans later in the year.

The rapid spread of a new coronavirus variant is expected to hit economies in Britain and beyond, but the stock market has remained resilient and demand for tech and growth firms remains strong.

Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley were joint global co-ordinators for Dr Martens IPO, and Barclays, HSBC, Bank of America and RBC Europe were joint bookrunners. Lazard was financial adviser.

(Additional reporting by Julien Ponthus. Editing by Jane Merriman)

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