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UPDATE 1-Romania's Fondul Proprietatea eyes London secondary listing
March 7, 2014 / 12:42 PM / 4 years ago

UPDATE 1-Romania's Fondul Proprietatea eyes London secondary listing

* Manager Franklin Templeton aims to raise Fondul visibility

* Fondul shareholders to approve London proposal on April 28 (Adds manager comment, share price)

BUCHAREST, March 7 (Reuters) - Franklin Templeton, the manager of Romania’s investment fund Fondul Proprietatea , will ask shareholders to approve a secondary Fondul listing on the London Stock Exchange as early as the summer, manager Grzegorz Konieczny said on Friday.

Templeton, which has repeatedly warned investors that access to the Bucharest Stock Exchange was hampered by complicated regulations, hopes the dual listing will increase Fondul’s and Romania’s visibility, tap a broader pool of capital and possibly lift its valuation through increased demand for the shares.

If everything goes smoothly, the listing could be executed by the summer, Konieczny told a news conference.

The $4.6 billion Fondul fund, created to compensate Romanians whose assets were seized when the country was under communist rule, holds minority stakes in a slew of state-owned companies. It has pushed successive governments in the European Union’s second-poorest state to reform outdated inefficient state-owned businesses.

Templeton will recommend the listing to Fondul’s shareholders at a meeting on April 28, having scrapped an earlier proposal to list on the Warsaw Stock Exchange.

However, the listing’s outcome could be marred by an unfavorable court ruling last month against state-owned power producer Hidroelectrica, the country’s largest electricity generator, in which Fondul holds a 20 percent stake, valued at roughly 500 million euros ($692 million).

The court ruling makes it impossible for Hidroelectrica to launch an initial public offering (IPO) this year, required under Romania’s aid deal led by the International Monetary Fund.

“It is impossible to expect the IPO this year. For us, Romania is a market that is always full of surprises and we have to accommodate it,” Konieczny said, adding that he expects the impact on Fondul’s London listing to be neutral.

Templeton will also ask Fondul shareholders to approve a fourth buyback programme of 10 percent of its issued share capital at a cost of at least 198.2 million lei ($61 million).

The Fondul buybacks aim to narrow the discount between its net asset value and its stock price, which stood at roughly 34 percent in January.

Fondul shares were down 0.7 percent at 0.81 lei by 1234 GMT, with other central European assets also falling on investors concern over conflict and debt default in Ukraine. ($1 = 0.7225 euros)

Reporting by Luiza Ilie; Editing by David Goodman

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