Nine set to float in early December

Sources say the sharemarket's biggest float in years will take place in early December as Nine's owners seek to pay down debt.

Nine Entertainment's shareholders have decided to hold the media company's $3 billion float in the first two weeks of December.

Sources said Nine’s shareholders – US hedge funds Apollo and Oaktree – believed the most logical time to list was December as lower interest rates and strengthening global markets propel the sharemarket higher

Apollo and Oaktree have also been encouraged by an uptick in the local advertising market and the Coalition victory that has boosted business confidence.

The company had been expected to launch an IPO in November or December. The Nine float would value the company at an earnings before interest tax and depreciation multiple of just over nine times.

The media company’s owners have decided to pull the trigger in the immediate aftermath of a US roadshow involving 40 presentations with potential investors in early September.

Nine executives led by chief executive David Gyngell are meeting with potential local investors in Sydney this week.

The size of the float is yet to be determined but will aim to raise between $800 million and $1.2 billion. It will be used to pay down Nine’s $1.1 billion debt and repay Apollo and Oaktree.

The decision on the IPO comes after Nine signed an exclusive agreement with billionaire Bruce Gordon’s WIN Corp to buy its remaining regional television stations once the 75 per cent population reach rule is scrapped.

The repeal of the regulation will enable metropolitan television broadcasters to merger with their regional counterparts. It has not been formally flagged by the government, but media companies are confident it will be abolished within two years and communications minister Malcolm Turnbull is known to be in favour of the reform.

The Nine/WIN pact was agreed in principle by Gyngell and Gordon last month and formally signed last week. Sources said KPMG acted on behalf of WIN, with UBS representing Nine.

The Australian