Banking & Finance

Why the Citizens Bank IPO Does Not Live Up to Advance Billing

Citizens Bank logo
Source: Citizens Financial Group Inc.
Citizens Financial Group Inc. (NYSE: CFG) priced its initial public offering (IPO) at $21.50 a share, below the expected range of $23 to $25, and the stock’s first trade Wednesday morning was right on that price. After about an hour of trading, the range was $21.35 to $22.66.

Citizens is the 13th largest retail bank holding company in the United States, and its parent company, the Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC (NYSE: RBS), raise about $3 billion in the IPO, about 10% less than it would have at the mid-point of the projected range.

Even at the lowered price, Citizens is the largest U.S. bank IPO since 1999, when Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (NYSE: GS) came public. Other recent U.S. financial IPOs include Ally Financial Inc. (NYSE: ALLY), which raised $2.4 billion in its April IPO, and Synchrony Financial (NYSE: SYF), which raised about $2.9 billion.

RBS sold 140 million shares in the IPO. Underwriters have been granted an overallotment option on an additional 21 million shares. If all the options are taken, RBS’s holding in the bank will be reduced to about 72%.

Citizens will receive no proceeds from the IPO. RBS is expected to use the dividend to improve its capital ratios and to recover from the punishment it took during the financial crisis.

While every IPO can’t generate the steam we saw last week at the first public offering of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. (NYSE: BABA), hopes were much higher for Citizens. Perhaps the Alibaba IPO simply sucked up all the money, or maybe it is the relatively nonchalant manner that RBS approached the IPO that it clearly undertook as a means to raise money for the parent and anything was better than nothing. Forbes cites RBS’s CEO:

The divestment of Citizens is a key component of our plan to continue to strengthen RBS’s capital position. The achievement of our capital plan will allow us to focus fully on the needs of our customers.

The “our” here does not include Citizens.

Shares were trading around $22.72 at about 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday. More than 42 million shares had traded hands thus far.

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