Magnit Share Sale Shelved After Drop

MTA Magnit store in northern Moscow. The food retailer's London-listed shares had fallen 31 percent on Wednesday.
Magnit said Thursday that it was canceling a planned sale of 3 million shares after the food retailer's London-listed shares plummeted 31 percent the day before.

The shares rebounded somewhat Thursday, regaining about 15 percent from Wednesday's close, after Magnit chief financial officer Khachatur Pombukhchan said Credit Suisse would not go ahead with the sale, which was planned via an accelerated bookbuild, Bloomberg reported.

Accelerated bookbuilds are used to offer shares for a short period of time, particularly when a company is in need of quick, nondebt financing.

The shares, Pombukhchan said, had been used as collateral against a loan.

Dina Chistyak, manager for investor relations, said the 3 million shares "belonged to a long-term Magnit private investor," and added that the offer was "not a reaction to the turbulence in the stock market."

A statement on the company's web site said the stake did not belong to CEO and majority shareholder Sergei Galitsky. His stake "was not under any sort of pressure and was not being used as collateral," the statement said.

Credit Suisse did not respond to requests for comment.

Russia's food retailers, among the world's fastest growing, have been hit by liquidity problems, and a number of them have predicted a major consolidation in the sector if the cash crunch continues.

Magnit, which raised $368 million in a domestic IPO in April 2006, offered 11.3 million shares on the London Stock Exchange in April to raise funds for expansion.

Analysts said Magnit's business remained steady, despite Wednesday's sharp downturn.

"Magnit's debt portfolio is just about 2 percent of the company's capitalization," said Andrei Verkholantsev, a retail analyst at Antanta Pioglobal. "Even though many big retailers are going through hard times, Magnit stands a good chance of weathering the storm."