Unhealthy start for iSelect

One of the year's most heavily hyped floats, health insurance comparison site iSelect, made a dismal debut, closing down 15.7 per cent.

One of the year's most heavily hyped floats, health insurance comparison site iSelect, made a dismal debut, closing down 15.7 per cent.

While the broader sharemarket shed 1.5 per cent, iSelect shares slumped 29ยข at $1.56 on debut.

The Melbourne-based company had tried to list several times but weak market conditions forced it to continue to raise funds privately before it tested the water with a sharemarket listing. It recently raised $215 million at $1.85 a share.

The bulk of iSelect's revenues come from health insurance sales, for which it receives upfront and trail fees from insurers. It also compares and sells other products, such as life and car insurance, electricity and home loans.

But the ease with which competitors can emerge has kept potential buyers on the back foot, especially with some original backers exiting the stock as part of the initial public offering.

Concerns have also been raised about the company booking as profit money that will be collected later.

Among top shareholders, founder Damien Waller has a 12 per cent stake. Based on the $1.85 issue price, Mr Waller is down about $12 million on his holding, although he would have invested at significantly lower prices.

Others include US private equity fund Spectrum with a 7.6 per cent stake, and Melbourne venture capital fund Starfish Ventures with more than 2 per cent.

In a note by broker Select Equities this month, analysts Danny Goldberg and Phuong Huynh said: "We don't think this is a cheap offer price [$1.85]", but they added that the underlying growth and positive investor sentiment for online business models was likely to provide significant investor appetite and potential upside.

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