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Monday, April 11, 2005

Morningstar IPO May Happen as Soon as Next Week

by: Sean Hanna, Editor in Chief

Morningstar's long-awaited IPO may take place as soon as next week. The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that the sale would consist of an auction of 7.6 million shares that are expected to be priced between $16 and $19 per share. The offering could raise as much as $130 million for Softbank Finance Corp.

The Japanese company is the sole seller of shares in the offering as Morningstar founder Joe Mansueto said he would retain his 78 percent stake in the firm. That stake could be worth as much as $525 million after the IPO. Don Phillips and other executives will own another 2 percent of the company, with Phillips stake being worth as much as $30 million.

For investors, Mansueto's decision to hold his shares means that they will be minority shareholders in a firm that Mansueto founded from his apartment in 1984.

Softbank purchased its shares in 1999 for $91 million.

Morningstar is following in the path of Google, and using an auction-based system to set the price of the floatation. The "dutch-auction" IPO is thought to be best suited for companies with a strong retail brand, such as Morningstar.

The Journal also reports that Morningstar is in discussions with the SEC with the goal of settling possible charges that it published incorrect information about the Rock Canyon Top Flight stock fund.

"We were not able to reach agreement on the terms of a settlement," Morningstar officials said in an SEC filing made late Friday.  

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