April 16, 2018 / 2:53 PM / 2 months ago

UPDATE 2-Consol tests South Africa optimism with up to $300 mln IPO

* Biggest IPO in Johannesburg so far this year

* Successful IPO would ease pressure on investor Brait (Writes through, adds detail, context, analyst)

By Tiisetso Motsoeneng and Nomvelo Chalumbira

JOHANNESBURG, April 16 (Reuters) - South African glass bottle maker Consol aims to raise up to $300 million in an initial public offering (IPO), it said on Monday, testing new-found enthusiasm in the country’s economy since Cyril Ramaphosa was elected president.

The biggest Johannesburg flotation so far this year comes amid growing confidence among investors and business leaders that Ramaphosa, who took over from Jacob Zuma in February, will follow through on promises to revive the economy and bring policy certainty.

Other factors include improving consumer confidence and lower interest rates, said Abri du Plessis, a fund manager at Gryphon Asset Management.

A successful listing will help Consol to reduce debt and also come as a relief to 30 percent owner Brait and the investor’s biggest shareholder Christo Wiese.

Shares in Brait have taken a battering in recent months, hurt by the underperformance of its British retailer New Look while Brait Chairman Wiese’s personal holding in Steinhoff has been hit by an accounting scandal at the international retail company.

Consol, bought out for 6.1 billion rand ($505 million) in 2007 by Brait and the private equity arms of Old Mutual and Sanlam, said it would sell roughly a third of the company, listing between 2 billion shares and 468.2 million shares at between 1.50 rand and 6.50 rand each.

The number of shares to be sold will depend on the price achieved, the company said in a pre-listing statement. At the top of the pricing range, the lower volume of shares would be sold, raising about 3 billion rand ($249 million).

There is also a greenshoe option, or overallotment, of up to 114.1 million shares to underwriters.

The top-end of the range values Consol at as much as 9.7 billion rand, or about six times the company’s 2017 core earnings of 1.6 billion rand.

The listing, slated for May 4, is subject to Consol raising at least 2.5 billion rand.

Goldman Sachs and Bank of America Merrill Lynch are working on the listing, along with South African banks RMB and Standard Bank, who will market the deal to domestic investors.

Consol, which counts blue-chip companies such as Anheuser-Busch InBev, Diageo and Heineken among its customers is one of the biggest glass packagers in sub-Saharan Africa. It has plants in South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria, and is also building a factory in Ethiopia. ($1 = 12.0500 rand)

Reporting by Tiisetso Motsoeneng and Nomvelo Chamumbira Editing by David Goodman

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