Archive for the ‘Flotations’ Category

Billionaire prince to float hotels

February 20, 2006


According to Forbes magazine the 5th richest man in the world is 48, self made, married with 2 children and a net worth of $23.7 billion and counting.

He is Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, nephew of the Saudi king, who began building his investment portfolio in 1979, when he returned to Saudi Arabia after graduating from college in the United States. 

Initially focusing on construction and real estate. he soon became a successful entrepreneur and an astute global investor and his Kingdom Holding Company today has investments in banking, real estate, telecommunications, broadcasting and media, entertainment, hospitality, computers and electronics, agriculture, restaurants, upscale fashion, retailing, supermarkets, tourism, travel, and automotive manufacturing.

Later this year there will be a rare opportunitiy for investors when he floats one of his investment vehicles, Kingdom Hotel Investments on the stock exchanges in London and Dubai.  KHI owns stakes in 26 hotels including the Savoy in London and the George V in Paris.This will be the first time he has taken a company public and marks a landmark in the career of this extraordinary billionaire.

He is a serial dealmaker. Last year he unloaded his half of New York’s Plaza Hotel and plowed the profits into buying stakes in London’s Savoy Hotel and Monaco’s Monte Carlo Grand. In January he helped bail out an ailing Disneyland-Paris with a $30 million cash injection. A vocal supporter of women’s rights, he hired the first female airplane pilot in Saudi Arabia, a country where women still can’t legally drive.

Clearly pleased with his stock picking prowess, he took out ads on CNN touting his holdings. “We’re telling the market all these companies are number one in their field,” crows Alwaleed.

The prince approaches philanthropic work with the same dedication he gives to his investment activities.  He has financed the construction of over eighty mosques and built electricity generators, wells, roads and bridges throughout the kingdom. 

Prince Alwaleed holds a B.S. in Business Administration from Menlo College and a master’s degree in Social Science from Syracuse University, as well as honorary degrees from the University of New Haven, Kyungwon University in Korea, and Syracuse University. 

Thanks for reading Big Business

David Davis


A Rightmove for Ed Williams

February 16, 2006


Ed Williams, chief executive of the property website Rightmove is hoping that his company’s planned listing on the London Stock Exchange will live up to its name.

On facts and figures alone, it should become investors’ delight. The company has a very simple business model. It charges estate agents a flat £250 a month per office to list any property they want. It’s a great deal when you consider an agent will spend between £2,000 and £5,000 a month on colour advertising in the local press.

Rightmove’s website had 4.5 million unique visitors in January, double the figure a year ago. The number of pages accessed was a remarkable 340 million, and already the company is wondering if there can really be many more people looking for homes out there.

Look at cost and circulation, and online has rapidly become a cheap way for classified advertisers to reach large numbers of consumers.

When the company, which last year produced profits of £8.7 million on revenues of £18.2 million, comes to market it will have a price tag of around £300 million, producing multi million pound windfalls for the main investors the estate agent groups of Countrywide, Halifax, and Connells,and the Royal & SunAlliance.

Ed, a former business strategy and IT consultant, with McKinsey & Co, Accenture and JP Morgan,  will also be considerably better off. He joined Rightmove in 2000 as Managing Director, shortly after it was set up and one of his first tasks to form the senior management team which remains in place through to today.

Now that the website business has such a dominance in the property listings market, the plan is for Rightmove to become a broadly based residential property services group, particularly a major player in the market for Home Information Packs that all sellers will have to complete next year.

Thanks for reading Big Business

David Davis


Leo Hambro, a chip off the old block

February 5, 2006


With a family name like Hambro it would be hard not to make it big in business.

Leo Hambro, a son of Peter Hambro, the scion of the City banking dynasty that goes back to 1839, is set to follow tradition later this year with the flotation of Tynda Forest Holdings on London’s Alternative Investment Market.

He is managing director of TFH which currently owns huge forestry reserves in eastern Russia. “Its about the size of Wales” says Leo. “it produces 1.5m cubic metres of wood per year. That is the sustainable level of harvest that we are permitted to cut”.

The company is building a parquet flooring factory just over the border in China and also makes fibre board and plywood.  The plan is to produce more finished products for the Russian and Far Eastern markets and to make fibre board without the use of environmentally damaging chemicals.

“We will be the only way to invest in the Russian timber market and it is highly fragment” says Leo.

When trading starts in the summer investors will be hoping that Leo will be as successful as his father who floated his Russian goldmining company on AIM in 1994 and it is now No 3 in the world with a market value in excess of  £1 billion.

Thank you for reading Big Business.

David Davis


Cantor firm flotation

January 24, 2006

The most poignant flotation of 2006 is likely to be that of BGC Partners, the London-based brokerage business of Cantor Fitzgerald.

According to the Daily Telegraph today, the float will coincide with the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York in which Cantor lost more than 600 employees. The New York business was devastated and Cantor’s London office was crucial in keeping it alive.

The resulting windfalls for London employees will have been well earned.  Good luck to them.

Qinetiq concerns

January 22, 2006

As far back as I can recall the Labour Party in Britain has been dead set against privatization so it is somewhat ironic that New Labour’s first flotation  of a former government department has been plunged into controversy by a series of misfortunes.

The £1.1 billion flotation of state-owned Qinetiq on the London Stock Exchange is planned for next month but concerns have been expressed over certain links the company has with the Ministry of Defence.Qinetiq is part of a consortium short-listed for two MoD contracts worth up to £10 billion for armed forces training and critics have voiced concerns that:  

  • Qinetiq’s executive management will receive large windfalls from the flotation as will the company’s private equity backer.
  • There has been a reluctance to give the public a share of the float;
  • The MoD finance director is a director of Qinetiq, although there is no suggestion that his work is influencing the Government’s selection of preferred bidders;
  • A non-executive director of Qinetiq is also a director of investment bank Credit Suisse which will receive an estimated £14 million as one of three firms running the float.