October 25, 2017 / 8:13 AM / a year ago

UPDATE 2-Austrian bank BAWAG gets blue-chip status on market debut

* Shares trade just below IPO price of 48 euros

* BAWAG part of blue chip index ATX from Friday

* Fund manager calls pricing “ambitious” (Adds details, fund manager, Vienna Stock Exchange CEO)

VIENNA, Oct 25 (Reuters) - Austrian bank BAWAG was valued at almost 5 billion euros ($5.9 billion) in the country’s biggest ever listing on Wednesday, putting it on course to join the local index of blue-chip stocks.

At 1210 GMT, the shares were trading at 46.98 euros, 2.1 percent below their issue price of 48 euros.

The listing is a major milestone in the turn around of the former trade union bank that had to be bailed out in 2006 after it was sued by creditors of collapsed U.S. futures trader Refco, which was one of its affiliates. It was then sold to Cerberus Capital Management, and other investors for 3.2 billion euros.

Austria’s fourth biggest bank has since recovered thanks to strict cost controls and a focus on online services.

It is not receiving any proceeds from the initial public offering, which saw Cerberus and Golden Tree Asset Management cut their stakes and raise up to 1.9 billion euros. {nL8N1MZ26P]

“We considered the pricing to be slightly ambitious,” said Alois Woegerbauer of 3 Banken Generali Investment Gesellschaft, an investment fund with 9.3 billion euros in assets.

While BAWAG’s figures were good and it had done a lot, “as a new shareholder I am not buying the past - I am buying the expectation of future earnings,” he said. There the question is “whether it is possible to raise the current good profit level”.

With an equity value of around 4.8 billion euros and a free float of 39.9 percent, BAWAG shares will join the Austrian blue chip index ATX via a so-called fast entry on Friday, the Vienna Stock Exchange said.

The shares will replace fireproof materials maker RHI , which is merging with Brazilian rival Magnesita and will list the new entity in London.

“The immediate inclusion into the blue chip index guarantees maximum attention to the (BAWAG) share from the outset,” said Vienna Stock Exchange Chief Executive Christoph Boschan.

Stock purchases by fund managers and insurances, which are invested in the ATX and therefore need BAWAG shares, are expected to support the share price.

BAWAG will account for around four percent of the ATX index weighting, increasing the already high proportion of financials in the ATX, which tracks 20 stocks.

Erste Group, Raiffeisen Bank International , Uniqa and Vienna Insurance account for nearly a third of the index weighting.

The Austrian blue chip index has gained nearly 30 percent since the beginning of the year, more than twice as much as the German DAX and largely outperforming its French and British counterparts.

$1 = 0.8505 euros Reporting by Kirsti Knolle, Francois Murphy, additional reporting by Alexandra Schwarz-Goerlich; Editing by Alexander Smith and Mark Potter

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