Install

Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Next Round of IPOs Facing a Tough Ride

Novorossiisk Commercial Sea Port on Monday became the latest Russian firm to announce plans to list in London amid indications that the next flurry of about $5 billion in public offerings will find it hard to attract the valuations they would like.

In a statement issued through the Regulatory News Service, the firm said it was hiring Troika Dialog and Morgan Stanley to manage the sale.

The Black Sea port, which is set to benefit from the state's plans to increase spending on infrastructure, is looking to offer up to 20 percent of its shares in an IPO, a source familiar with the deal said.

The company declined further comment Monday. Analysts have said the company could list by year's end.

At the end of last week, Interfax reported that Bank Zenit was planning to delay its IPO, which had been slated for late fall, until early next year.

Citing a banking source, Interfax said the bank was facing tougher market conditions in selling its IPO to investors. A spokesman for the bank could not be reached for comment Monday.

Many of the Russian companies holding IPOs this year have performed poorly since listing, a trend compounded by the fallout from the U.S. subprime crisis.

"Investors are being more careful about Russian listings because many of them did not do so well after their IPOs," said Andrei Vykhristyuk, a strategist at UBS. "Investors will demand a discount."

To many, though, Russian banks remain extremely attractive for investors. Zenit, in which metals magnate Vladimir Lisin bought a 14 percent stake in September, is primed to receive an approach from a foreign buyer.

"It doesn't surprise me that Novorossiisk is coming and that Zenit is pulling," said Chris Weafer, chief strategist at UralSib. "Investor interest is very strong in infrastructure stories ... [while] the [global] banking sector is having a tough time attracting money from portfolio investors."

RusAl, majority-owned by Oleg Deripaska, said in September that it was delaying its much-anticipated IPO "indefinitely," citing hardening market conditions. It had been expected to list this year.

Nevertheless, given Russian markets' recovery and buoyant metal prices, analysts said RusAl might have another reason for the delay.

That reason could be that Deripaska is in talks to buy Mikhail Prokhorov's blocking stake in Norilsk Nickel, perhaps to sell on to the state later, Weafer said. "The metals sector stands out like a sore thumb as a sector in which the state doesn't have a national champion," Weafer said. "And Norilsk is the biggest strategic company in which the state doesn't have a direct involvement. RusAl [as a buyer] makes sense."

Norilsk owners Prokhorov and Vladimir Potanin are in the process of divvying up their assets, and while Potanin has expressed hopes of buying out his partner, Prokhorov has hinted that he could sell his stake to an outside investor.

If RusAl were to acquire the Norilsk stake, it would materially change the type of company that investors were buying into in an IPO, Weafer said.