Exclusive: Coronavirus outbreak delays Carlyle’s Atotech IPO – sources

(This January 31 story was refiled to correct spelling of coronavirus in headline)

By Joshua Franklin Arno Schuetze

NEW YORK/FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Buyout firm Carlyle Group Inc <CG.O> has delayed the U.S. initial public offering (IPO) of its German specialty chemicals group Atotech, concerned that the coronavirus outbreak would negatively impact the valuation it could achieve with investors, people familiar with the matter said on Friday.

Carlyle’s decision highlights the uncertainty that the spread of the virus in China and around the world has brought to financial markets, with the benchmark S&P 500 Index <.SPX> on track for its worst week since August.

Atotech, which makes specialty chemicals and equipment for printed circuit boards and semiconductors, had planned to kick off its IPO process this week by publishing an indicated price range.

However, Carlyle became concerned that Atotech’s production and business exposure in China, as well as the broader market volatility caused by the outbreak, would hurt investor demand in the IPO, the sources said.

Atotech operates several manufacturing facilities in China, accounting for 38% of the revenue in its chemistry segment, which in turn makes up about 90% of its business, according to its IPO registration.

It could not be learned when Atotech was planning to resume its IPO preparations. If the delay extends beyond Feb. 14, the company would have to resubmit its IPO filing to U.S. regulators to include full-year earnings, pushing back the process further.

The sources requested anonymity because the decision is confidential. Atotech and Carlyle declined to comment on the IPO plans and on any potential impact of the coronavirus outbreak on Atotech’s business in China.

To be sure, the window to go public is open for companies with less or no exposure to China. Household goods maker Reynolds Consumer Products <REYN.O> and digital-focused healthcare provider 1Life Healthcare Inc <ONEM.O>, which is also backed by Carlyle, successfully completed IPOs this week.

Carlyle acquired Atotech in 2016 in a deal worth $3.2 billion, including debt. The company was looking for a valuation of around $5 billion, including debt, in its IPO, Reuters previously reported.

(Reporting by Joshua Franklin in New York and Arno Schuetze in Frankfurt; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

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