Gaz de France in €4.5 Billion IPO
July 13, 2005
Cleary Gottlieb represented Gaz de France in its initial public offering, which included a Rule 144A placement in the United States. The €4.5 billion partial privatization is the largest IPO in three years and the largest IPO of a French state-owned company since the 1999 privatization of Crédit Lyonnais (a transaction for which Cleary acted as counsel).
The IPO involved the sale of a minority stake in Gaz de France by the French State, as well as an offering of newly authorized shares. The transaction, in which shares were offered to employees in five European countries under the new European “passport” system, is the first IPO to fall under the new European prospectus directive, which came into effect on July 1. The lead underwriters were CALYON (the investment banking arm of Crédit Agricole), Société Générale, Lazard-IXIS and Merrill Lynch International. The shares are listed on Eurolist by Euronext.
Gaz de France is the leading natural gas company in France and among the leaders in Europe, supplying natural gas to 12.5 million customers, including 10.9 million in France. Gaz de France operates Europe’s longest natural gas transmission network and the second largest distribution network, and is among the world’s largest purchasers of natural gas and LNG.