UPDATE 1-Australia’s Ausco planning IPO, first PE float in 18 months

* Ausco seen leveraged to mining boom with possible A$500
mln float

* IPO issuance in Q1 was paltry at $21.5 mln- Thomson
Reuters data

* Some private equity owners happy to wait for better
conditions

(Adds details, background)

By Victoria Thieberger

MELBOURNE, April 12 (Reuters) – Australian private-equity
owned building company Ausco Ltd is planning a A$500 million
($520 million) initial public offering, according to several
fund managers, in what would be the first float by a buyout firm
in the local market in 18 months.

The IPO market has been virtually shut for private equity
firms since the disappointing float of department store Myer
, which listed in November 2009 and has yet to trade
above its offer price.

But two fund managers who have seen premarketing documents
for Ausco — owned by Waco International, a South-African based
industrial services company bought by CCMP Capital in 2006 —
said its links with the resources boom could see a better
reception to a potential float.

Ausco produces and hires out modular buildings for the
mining and construction industries, government and schools.

The fund managers spoke on condition of anonymity because
they were not authorised to speak the media. One said a
prospectus could be lodged next month.

Advisers UBS and JP Morgan, and Ausco were not immediately
available for comment.

TESTING THE WATERS

Private equity industry sources said owners were taking baby
steps on potential floats or trade sales.

“A lot of people are out there testing the market before
starting a formal (sale) process. Normally vendors are much more
confident that there is the appetite,” said one person who was
not authorised to speak with the press.

Last month, Australian cinema chain Hoyts said plans to
float or sell this year were on hold due to market uncertainty,
and owners Pacific Equity Partners (PEP) had no new timetable to
exit the company.

Others said even though private equity firms are holding
onto a large number of companies acquired in the 2006-07 boom
years, few were under pressure to exit if conditions were not
right.

“It’s not that you can’t do an IPO, it’s just that we
haven’t had a meeting of minds between institutions and vendors
yet