Tallink stock trades publicly, CEO Pant awaits Riga route

  • 2005-12-14
  • Staff and wire reports
TALLINN - Public trading on Tallink stock began Dec. 9, with the share price ending its first day less than 1 percent over the initial public offering price. Brokers said most of the deals were small, with individual investors trying to lock in gains after trading began 10 percent higher than the IPO level.

But the Tallinn Stock Exchange listing for Tallink, the Baltics' largest passenger ferry, breathed yet more life into Baltic equity markets, which lost their most liquid stock, Hansapank, earlier this year.

CEO Enn Pant told journalists that it was the company's fourth attempt to get a public listing. Tallink wanted to have its stock listed the first time in 1997, which had to be changed after the stock-market meltdown in 1998. Subsequent attempt to acquire a listing in Oslo and Helsinki also failed.

Some 1,220 deals took place on Tallink on Dec. 9, with 290.4 million kroons' (18.6 million euros) worth of shares changing hands. The company's market capitalization stood at 724.8 million euros, ranking it second among Baltic main-list stocks in terms of capitalization.

"I think it is not easy to push Tallink below the IPO price, as the lead manager Citibank has the possibility to support the stock with purchases in the amount of up to 10 percent," said Henno Viires, trader for the investment bank LHV.

"At the same time, panic sellers will apparently be there on Monday too, putting pressure on the price. By the end of next week, the price may rise five percent 's the rise apparently won't be fast. What comes after that depends on the financial results already," he said.

Tallink now has hundreds of millions of euros in its bank accounts, Pant said. The company plans to use the cash for new investments. He did not rule out that the company might stage new public offerings in the future to attract more money.

In the meantime, the company is eager to begin operating the Riga-Stockholm route. Pant said that, if the company launched a regular service now, the route could prove a greater success than the Tallinn-Helsinki line. Riga is a bigger city than Tallinn, and there is no reason why the Riga-Stockholm operation shouldn't be as successful as Tallink's existing operations are now, he said.

Tallink is continuing talks with the Riga Port to agree on port dues and charges. The Riga-Stockholm line can be launched if the port cuts the dues for Tallink to the same level as in neighboring ports.

In case an agreement is reached, the route can be launched within a couple of months, the Tallink CEO said.