LONDON/BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Hungarian low-cost airline Wizz Air said it plans to list its shares on the London Stock Exchange, seeking to raise 200 million euros (161.66 million pounds) to strengthen its balance sheet.
Wizz Air, which started to fly 10 years ago, is now the largest budget airline of central and eastern Europe with a market share of 38 percent, the company said on its website on Thursday.
The airline, which has a fleet of 46 Airbus planes, had revenue of 1 billion euros in the year ended 31 March 2014, and net profit of 89 million euros.
“We will continue to grow the business. New markets can be stimulated,” Chief Executive Jozsef Varadi told Reuters. He said the company plans to expand its fleet to 82 Airbus A320 planes by the end of 2017.
He said that as well as raising money by selling new shares, the initial public offering (IPO) might enable Wizz Air to get better terms on loans to help fund growth.
Varadi said he wanted Wizz Air to benefit from consolidation in the sector.
“We expect more consolidation in the market. It is hard to say when and where but we expect consolidation and we want to be able to act.”
The airline’s nine base countries now serve 35 countries in Europe, more than any other low-cost airline in the region, Varadi said.
”We believe that pricing is of key importance to customers, Varadi said. “We try to be the local airline to them. We have 19 languages on our website, and accept 17 currencies.”
The listing is being run by Barclays and Citi and JP Morgan, with Nomura acting as lead manager.
The airline aims to complete its share sale next month.
Reporting By Freya Berry and Marton Dunai; Editing by Erica Billingham