Three Liberty Financial shareholders worth nearly $2 billion

Liberty Financial has secured a $321 million initial public offering and $1.82 billion sharemarket debut, after Credit Suisse wrapped up the bookbill yesterday at lunchtime, as reported by the Australian Financial Review.

The non-bank received enough demand to see its IPO underwritten, placing it well on its way for a December listing, the AFR said. Its shares will list at $6 each, meaning Liberty is valued at 11 times forecast profit - or $1.82 billion on a market capitalisation basis.

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According to AFR, Liberty timed its IPO perfectly, following strong performance in bank and finance stocks over the past couple of weeks.

This marks the end of a 15 year quest to list Liberty on the ASX; the non-bank first attempting an IPO in 2004 after now executive director Sherman Ma founded the company in 1997; starting the business from a boarding house in Melbourne, as the story goes.

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US-based Ma set up Liberty with the assistance of two private backers - the founder of Universal Furniture, the late Lawrence Mo, and former Credit Suisse and Salomon Brothers banker Greg Parseghian with his wife Christine.

The AFR reported Ma remains the biggest shareholder with a 48.7% interest while Michael Moh, as the representative of his late father’s estate, has a 40.3% interest and the Parseghians have 6%. The remaining 5% is in the hands of management, directors and current or former employees.

Pitched to potential investors as the 10th biggest lender in Australia, the group had an $11.5 billion loan portfolio at June 30, which it expects to grow to $11.9 billion by June 2021. Liberty forecast $838.2 million income and $153.9 million net profit in 2021 financial year, said AFR.