Utilities firm Verastar plots £500m float


A provider of telecoms and utility services to small businesses is dusting off plans for a £500m stock market listing two years after it was fined by regulators for misleading its customers.

Sky News has learnt that the owner of Verastar – which was previously called Unicom – has lined up investment bankers at Jefferies to take the company public.
The precise timing of a float is unclear, but sources said it was likely to take place within months.
Vitruvian Partners, the buyout firm, bought Unicom’s parent, Universal Utilities, in 2011.
It considered a float of the business two years ago but saw its plans derailed by its regulatory mishap.
Verastar has grown rapidly since it was handed a £200,000 fine by Ofcom in July 2015 for mis-selling landline telephone services.
The company apologised, and less than three months later changed its trading name in an effort to put the issue behind it.

It has also diversified the portfolio of services it provides to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), including becoming Scotland’s biggest independent water supplier just four years after entering the market.
Verastar continues to trade under the Unicom brand, as well as using the names ClearBusiness, Economy Gas, Kinex and Titan Telecom.
It also owns 118 777, a directory enquiry service which it claims is almost twice as cheap as rivals including 118 118, the market leader.
The plans for a flotation adds to signs of a revival in the London market for initial public offerings.
Companies including Arqiva, the communications infrastructure giant, and Bakkavor, a producer of salads and ready meals for supermarkets, are drawing up plans to float in the coming months.
A Vitruvian spokesman could not be reached for comment.

Source: SKY

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