FRANKFURT, Sept 28 (Reuters) - Container shipping group Hapag-Lloyd is planning to raise $500 million in a stock market flotation, the company said on Monday, joining a swathe of initial public offerings in Germany.
The world's fourth largest container liner is planning to sell new shares worth $400 million, while two existing shareholders, Kuehne Maritime and CSAV are placing cornerstone orders of $50 million each.
"This move will give us better access to the capital markets which will enable us to further invest in our business to become more competitive," Hapag-Lloyd Chief Executive Rolf Habben Jansen said.
Hapag-Lloyd, which may be valued at more than 5 billion euros in the IPO, is the latest German company to announce plans for an initial public offering (IPO) in recent days, following automotive supplier Schaeffler, Bayer's plastics business Covestro, building materials maker Xella and online classifieds group Scout24.
The companies are seeking to take advantage of still robust equities markets, but Hapag-Lloyd has adjusted its IPO volume in response to recent market wobbles, sources familiar with the deal said.
"Caution was the imperative. Hapag's shareholders opted to float the smallest possible stake to avoid offering more than investors are willing to buy and having to scrap IPO plans," one of the people said.
IPOs with a volume of less than $500 million euros are generally regarded as providing too little liquidity and are therefore avoided if possible.
Investor assumptions on equities markets in general as well as the development of the China market crisis and potential effects on the real economy and trade activity were taken into account when preparing for the flotation, another person said.
"You never hit the perfect timing for an IPO," Jansen told Reuters.
Europe's largest tourism group TUI, which holds 13.9 percent in Hapag, had stressed in the past that it wants to sell its stake in the event of an IPO as part of a strategy to focus solely on tourism activities.
TUI is selling some shares in the IPO, but will wait for follow-on placements to divest the bulk of its shares.
Hapag-Lloyd posted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization of 493.3 million and a net profit of 157.2 million euros in the first half of 2015.
Listed peers like Maersk, China Cosco , China Shipping, Orient Overseas Container Line, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines or Hanjin Shipping trade at an average multiple of around 6.
When Hapag-Lloyd announced its merger with the container shipping activities of Chilean rival Vapores last year, it said it would seek to list on the stock exchange.
The company is now targeting annual net synergies of around $400 million fully realised by 2017, $100 million higher than originally planned.
Berenberg, Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs are organising the IPO with the help of Citigroup, Credit Suisse, HSBC and UniCredit as well as DZ BANK, ING and M.M. Warburg in further roles. (Reporting by Arno Schuetze; Additional reporting by Kathrin Jones; Editing by Tom Heneghan)