Archer brings in bankers for Ascendia float

The listing of the sporting goods chain could fetch up to A$1bn, according to some reports.

Sydney-based Archer Capital has appointed three banks to advise on the listing of portfolio company Ascendia Retail on the Australian Stock Exchange, a source close to the firm has confirmed.

Goldman Sachs, Bank of America/Merrill Lynch and UBS have been hired to advise on the listing of the retailer, which local media reports have said could raise between A$800 million (US$728 million; €489 million) and A$1 billion. The company is not expected to float until next year.

Ascendia Retail is comprised of three Archer acquisitions and includes high street chains Amart All Sports and Rebel Sport. Archer backed the management buyout of Amart, a Queensland-based chain of 26 sports stores, in 2004, adding a smaller sports retailer, Rowe & Jarman, in 2005. Rebel Sport, Australia’s largest sports retailer, was added in 2007 after Archer delisted the company in a deal valued at A$369 million. Ascendia Retail now has more than 150 outlets across Australia and, according to a Reuters report, annual sales of A$670 million.

Ascendia will follow on the heels of TPG- and Blum Capital-backed Myer Group, Australia’s largest chain of department stores, which is due to go public on 2 November. With a share offer price of A$3.90 to A$4.90, media reports have estimated the Myer float could fetch up to A$3 billion, netting its private equity sponsors A$1.9 billion.

Ascendia was only one of several private-equity backed retails firms said to be eyeing the public markets in the wake of the Myer offer.

Amongst others which have been cited in media reports as potential candidates is Kathmandu, a chain of outdoor wear and adventure equipment shops purchased by Quadrant Private Equity and Goldman Sachs JBWere Private Equity in 2006. It is estimated it could fetch around A$400 million on the Australian Stock Exchange. According to Quadrant's website, it has invested just under A$44 million in Kathmandu.