Rising star award: How Saga’s Duncan Browne won

Jul 21, 2017
<p>IR manager helped relaunch corporate brand after badly received listing</p>

Duncan Browne joined Saga shortly after a difficult IPO in 2014. Using a plan to ‘re-IPO’ the travel and insurance company, he helped resurrect the share price and supported the sale of the remaining equity through four off-market transactions.

The role he played in this story saw Browne win the rising star award at the IR Magazine Awards – Europe 2017.

‘As a newly formed PLC with severe investor and media perception issues, the company’s situation required personnel with deep capital markets experience and strong communications skills,’ explained Browne in his awards submission.

‘[We had] a falling share price, a very small free float (25 percent) and a majority private equity ownership, and I was tasked with the key objective of repositioning the investment case to encourage new, long-term quality investors onto the register.’

The company used a capital markets day to launch its re-IPO strategy. Browne was responsible for working with advisers on the strategy and creating the presentation.

‘My key objectives for this event were to honestly and directly address the issues that had plagued the IPO – specifically, the perception that Saga was an insurance company trying to pass itself off as a leisure/retail stock to achieve a higher valuation – and to concisely convey the quality of our core insurance business by providing disclosure not given at the IPO,’ said Browne.

‘I then planned to build on this momentum through a targeted investor and analyst program, where we would attempt to further improve sentiment toward us and build enough investor demand to place the rest of our equity and achieve a 100 percent free float.’

The capital markets day played out well with 130 different investors attending and the presentation getting the desired message across.

‘The shares reacted positively and over the course of the next 18 months I attended more than 300 individual investor meetings with management, during which we placed the remaining 75 percent of our equity in four off-market transactions (including one transaction that was larger than the original IPO, and considerably oversubscribed),’ commented Browne.

‘This has resulted in an extremely high quality shareholder register of predominantly UK long-only holders.’

Thanks to his work on this project, Browne was later promoted to head of IR and financial media at Saga. Then came his rising star award with IR Magazine. The award was decided by a panel of judges, featuring senior investors, a former IRO and an IR Magazine journalist, with one judge saying that it was a ‘great turnaround story.’

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