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UPDATE 1-Poland's Allegro approaches one of Warsaw's biggest IPO debuts

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WARSAW, Sept 22 (Reuters) - Poland’s Allegro set the maximum price for its listing at 43 zlotys per share on Tuesday, valuing the e-commerce platform’s IPO at up to 8.1 billion zlotys ($2.1 billion) and making it one of Warsaw’s biggest market debuts.

If successful, Allegro’s planned initial public offering (IPO) is expected to attract more companies to the Warsaw Stock Exchange, which has seen turnover decline and struggled to attract new listings.

It also comes amid signs of a pick-up in the European IPO market, after the COVID-19 pandemic curbed first-half activity.

Allegro, which is the most recognised e-commerce brand in Poland and as of June had around 12.3 million active buyers in its e-commerce marketplace, plans to raise more that 1 billion zlotys from the issue of up to 28.6 million new shares, while the whole offer would comprise of up to 187.8 million shares.

Allegro, whose owners Cinven, Permira and Mid Europa bought it along with online portal Ceneo from South Africa’s Naspers for $3.25 billion in 2016, plans to use the IPO proceeds to repay part of its outstanding debt.

Book-building among institutional investors ends on Sept. 28 while the final share price will be published on or about Sept. 29. Allegro, which plans to debut on the Warsaw bourse on Oct. 12, said its free float would be at least 18.26% of the company.

Allegro said its net profit rose to 290 million zlotys in the first six months of this year from 196 million a year ago.

In its IPO prospectus, Allegro listed Poland’s judicial reforms, which critics say undermine the independence of the courts, among the potential risks to its operations.

“Some of those changes have attracted the attention of EU institutions and have been questioned by members of the Polish legal community who perceive them as potential threats to both judicial independence and the rule of law,” it said. ($1 = 3.8181 zlotys) (Reporting by Agnieszka Barteczko and Anna Koper; Editing by Alexander Smith)

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