Magnit to Raise $480M in Share Sale

VedomostiThe share issue will likely help Magnit go ahead with 18 planned store openings this year, a Citigroup analyst said.
Magnit, the country's second-largest supermarket chain, said Wednesday that it expected to raise more than $480 million in a share sale to pay for additional grocery stores.

Magnit sold 9.72 million new shares at $42.50 apiece, the retailer said in a statement. This number may increase to 11.3 million because of a so-called over-allotment option to sell some additional shares. The sale values the entire company at around $3.5 billion.

Magnit is raising funds to expand as the country's economy swells for a 10th straight year, fueling grocery sales as higher incomes enable more people to shop in stores instead of open markets. The company had around 2,200 discount supermarkets across the country at the end of 2007 and plans to open 250 more both this year and in 2009, Citigroup analyst Marat Ibragimov said.

Last year's expansion included Magnit's first three superstores. The retailer plans to open 18 more of the outlets this year and eight annually after that, Ibragimov said. He advises buying Magnit shares.

Magnit's stores are mostly in cities with populations of fewer than 500,000 people. The retailer added 304 outlets in 2007, expanding its selling space by one-quarter.

Profit jumped 68 percent to $97.4 million last year after new stores opened and sales climbed at existing outlets, Magnit said March 19. Sales rose 47 percent to $3.68 billion.

The grocer is larger than any other Russian supermarket company except Moscow-based X5 Retail Group.

Magnit rose 19.94 rubles, or 1.9 percent, to 1,054.88 rubles on the MICEX stock exchange. The Global Depositary Receipts traded recently at $9 in London.