Young & Rubicam Inc. ended months of speculation last Thursday by filing for its initial public offering, to raise $350 million, with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Y&R said it would use the proceeds, in part, to pay down the debt it acquired in 1996 and 1997 as part of its recapitalization in preparation for going public. The debt was $330.6 million as of Dec. 31, 1997, per the filing.
Y&R's filing did not propose a share price nor divulge how much of company would be sold to the public, though some estimated that 20-25 percent of its equity is involved. Those details will emerge in coming weeks, but the company has been valued by observers at $2.5 billion.
The filing marked the first time Y&R unveiled its books for public scrutiny. Over the period from 1993 to 1997, Y&R posted revenue growth from $905.8 million to $1.38 billion. It showed losses of $486,000 in 1993, $238.3 million in 1996 and $23.9 million last year. Those losses, however, are attributed to financial restructuring in preparation for the IPO. The company posted earnings before interest and other charges of some $147.2 million in 1996 and $139.4 million in 1997.
"Whenever you're looking at a company being restructured there are going to be charges written off that have nothing to do with the business," said Abe Jones, a managing director with AdMedia Partners.
Sources said that Y&R is accounting for its debt now to get bad news out of the way so it will not have to account for it when it is publicly traded. "I think the company is, in fact, profitable on an operating basis, but on a lower level than some of its competitors," Jones said.
Other revelations in the filing show that some 325 employees of the holding company now have stock. Y&R chairman Peter Georgescu's stake is listed a 2.9 percent while COO Ed Vick has 2.4 percent. Hellman & Friedman Capital Partners III, the San Francisco investment firm which reportedly acquired 20 percent of Y&R for $200 million in 1996, owns 45.2 percent, or just over 1.9 million shares.