Unimilk Plans to Hold IPO in 2009

Itar-TassGeneral director Andrei Beskhmelnitsky confirmed on Monday that Unimilk sold a stake to U.S. Capital International.
Unimilk, the country's second-largest dairy company, plans to hold an initial public offering in 2009, its general director said Monday.

"The company's management has been set the task of preparing the company for an IPO in 2009," Andrei Beskhmelnitsky told a news conference.

"I think the IPO will be well timed starting from the middle of next year, if the shareholders make this decision," he said. He gave no other details of the planned offering.

In 2007, revenues at Unimilk rose by around 40 percent to 30.5 billion rubles ($1.30 billion). It has a 15 percent market share in Russia, lagging only Wimm-Bill-Dann.

Beskhmelnitsky said Unimilk expected to generate revenues of 42 billion to 44 billion rubles this year, a year-on-year increase of 90 to 100 percent.

Unimilk, founded in 2002, has 31 plants in Russia and Ukraine and plans to launch one in St. Petersburg this summer.

Last week, Kommersant reported that Unimilk had sold a 10 percent stake to U.S. Capital International Private Equity Fund. Beskhmelnitsky said Unimilk sold an "economically expedient minority stake" to the fund, raising more than $175 million.

"We were satisfied with the size of the deal and also with the estimate of our company by experienced investors, who confirmed the value that has been created," Beskhmelnitsky said.

He said Unimilk would use the sale proceeds to finance new plant construction and optimize its debt portfolio.

He added that the company currently planned no acquisitions.