Synchrony IPO Fails to Deliver the Hoped-For Value for GE

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Synchrony Financial (NYSE: SYF) opened its first day of trading at $23.00 a share, right on the initial public offering (IPO) price it set Wednesday for 125 million shares. At that price, gross proceeds from the IPO will total about $2.8 billion and the new company will have a market cap of around $19 billion.

Joint book-running managers are Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, Barclays, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank Securities. The underwriters have an option on an additional 18.75 million shares.

It is hard to say why the IPO received such a muted reaction. Part of the reason may be that Ally Financial Inc. (NYSE: ALLY), which came public in April, has faltered recently and closed at a new post-IPO low Wednesday. Ally raised about $2.6 billion in its IPO at a price of $24.50 per share, which is very likely the target Synchrony had it mind when it set its price range.

The Synchrony IPO is part of General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE) CEO Jeff Immelt’s strategy to return the company to its industrial roots and minimize its long dependence on financial profits. The focus of Immelt’s strategy is on big industrial products like jet engines, locomotives and turbines. And there are signs that the strategy is working: GE agreed recently to pay $17 billion for the power and grid business of France’s Alstom in the largest acquisition in GE’s history. And the company took orders for $36 billion in new jet engines at a recent air show, nearly equaling the $40 billion in new aircraft orders taken by Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA).

ALSO READ: Why a Boeing 777-9X Costs $377 Million

GE is holding on to 85% of Synchrony stock until late next year, when the company is expected to conduct a tax-free distribution of the remaining shares to its stockholders. The company was definitely looking for more that it got Thursday.

Synchrony’s shares trading down about 0.6% at $22.87 in the first hour of trading. The shares hit a peak of $24.00 before sliding. More than 37 million shares had been traded so far.

GE’s stock traded down 0.8%, at $25.44 in a 52-week range of $22.92 to $28.09.

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