By Arno Schuetze and Alexander Hübner
FRANKFURT, July 15 (Reuters) – German container shipping group Hapag-Lloyd is speeding up preparations for an initial public offering (IPO) and has picked Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs and Berenberg to lead the transaction, two people familiar with the matter said.
A flotation of a minority stake could value the world’s fourth-largest shipping group at more than 5 billion euros ($5.5 billion) and could take place as early as autumn, Dow Jones reported earlier on Wednesday.
Hapag Lloyd and the banks declined to comment.
When it announced its merger with the container shipping activities of Chilean rival Vapores last year, Hapag-Lloyd said it would seek to list on the stock exchange.
But CEO Rolf Habben Jansen said in May a flotation was more likely after 2015.
Europe’s largest tourism group TUI, which holds 13.9 percent in Hapag, has stressed in the past that it wants to sell its stake in the event of an IPO as part of a strategy to focus solely on tourism activities.
The Vapores owner family holds 34 percent in the combined group, while the city of Hamburg holds 23.2 percent and entrepreneur Klaus-Michael Kuehne holds 20.8 percent, with smaller stakes held by financial investors.
High stock market valuations have led several groups to speed up flotation plans.
In Germany, mortgage lender Pfandbriefbank, which is slated to have its debut on Thursday, opted for an early time slot.
Bayer’s plastics maker Covestro, construction materials group Xella and packaging group Mauser have also brought forward IPO plans.
Hapag-Lloyd swung to a first-quarter profit this year, thanks to the stronger U.S. dollar, lower fuel prices and the first effects of its merger.
Chief Executive Rolf Habben Jansen has previously said the company would like to get three or four good quarters under its belt before floating a minority stake. ($1 = 0.9107 euros) (Reporting by Alexander Hübner and Arno Schuetze; additional reporting by Victoria Bryan; Editing by Georgina Prodhan)
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