* Cnova to raise up to $375 mln in U.S. share sale
* Float values Cnova at more than 4 bln euros
* Casino shares up nearly 2.3 pct in Paris, outperform sector (Adds detail, analyst comment, valuations)
By Dominique Vidalon
PARIS, Nov 3 (Reuters) - Shares in French retailer Casino rose more than 2 percent after its e-commerce business Cnova unveiled plans to raise as much as $375 million in a U.S. stock market listing to fund international expansion and innovation.
The move comes after an active several months for e-commerce initial public offerings (IPOs), culminating in the bumper New York flotation of China’s Alibaba in September.
More recently, however, a lacklustre stock market debut by Europe’s largest online fashion retailer Zalando in Frankfurt dented the tech euphoria and investors have been anxious to hear whether Casino would proceed with plans to list the business on Nasdaq.
The picture has been muddied further by recent trading updates, with online giant Amazon.com last month announcing fourth-quarter sales projections that disappointed Wall Street, while Casino said that its third-quarter sales growth slowed sharply, reflecting a slowdown in Brazil, its biggest market.
CM-CIC analysts, however, were encouraged by Cnova’s IPO announcement in a regulatory filing on Friday that said the business would offer 26.8 million shares, equating to 6 or 7 percent of its capital, at between $12.50 and $14 a share to raise $335-375.2 million. Underwriters have the option to buy an additional 4 million shares to cover overallotments.
“It’s good news,” the analysts said in a note. “... The deal would not have been launched if its chances of success were not significant.”
Cnova, which has nearly $4 billion in annual sales in France, Brazil, Colombia, Thailand, Vietnam and Africa, said the money would be used to further its expansion into new territories and launch new websites.
The news helped to lift Casino’s shares 2.3 percent to 83.60 euros by 1247 GMT, outperforming a 0.3 percent gain for the European retail sector.
Cnova did not provide a timetable for the IPO but investor roadshows are already starting in Europe, Brazil and the United States.
Casino, which owns brands including discounter LeaderPrice, the Geant Casino hypermarkets and the Monoprix retail chain, directly owns 43.5 percent of Cnova.
Analysts at brokerage Bernstein said the IPO range valued Cnova at between 4.1 billion euros ($5.1 billion) and 4.6 billion euros, ahead of its initial valuation of 3.5 billion euros.
“Using the updated valuation of Cnova, it is now 29 percent of the value of Casino,” the analysts added.
Another analyst, who asked to remain anomymous, said he had been targeting a 4 billion euro valuation but described the small size of the float as “a bit of a disappointment”.
Nicolas Champ, analyst at Barclays, said the IPO range valued Cnova at a little more than estimated 2015 sales, a one-to-one ratio that he said is satisfactory given recent poor newsflow on online retailers and fears of an economic slowdown in Brazil.
Cnova posted 2013 sales of $3.66 billion and had gross merchandise volume of $4.5 billion, a 21.4 percent increase over pro-forma figures for 2012, according to the filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commisssion. (1 US dollar = 0.8003 euro)
Editing by David Holmes and David Goodman