Nine float ramps up to catch Cup fever

The publicity machine around the Nine Entertainment float is to crank up the day before the Melbourne Cup this year, with the media group's gaggle of investment banks scheduled to have a prospectus ready to lodge with the corporate regulator on Monday, November 4.

The publicity machine around the Nine Entertainment float is to crank up the day before the Melbourne Cup this year, with the media group's gaggle of investment banks scheduled to have a prospectus ready to lodge with the corporate regulator on Monday, November 4.

It is one of the key details of the Nine float revealed in meetings between investors on Monday following the company's annual meeting. The 80-odd shareholders were also given an outline of the share facility that will allow them to sell their stock into the float, scheduled for the week beginning December 9.

Up to $1 billion worth of shares may be available for the public, although investors were told $500 million to $750 million is a more likely range for the sale.

This week, the investment banks leading Nine's float will market the initial public offering to institutional investors to get an indicative price range for the IPO, which will be taken back to Nine's investors to decide how much they are willing to sell.

By raising $275 million via new shares in the float Nine plans to pay down its debt to around $600 million, about twice the company's forecast earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) for the current financial year.

The final price of the sale will determine how many new shares are issued to pay down debt, but it is expected to be around the $120 million mark.

The market's appetite for Nine's shares will then determine the overall size of the sale to the public and how many current shareholders can cash in as part of the IPO.

Details of how long current investors will need to keep their remaining shares in escrow is still being discussed.

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