Manufacturer Rexnord Corp. is renewing an effort to go public that it began before the recession.
Rexnord, which makes gears, chains and other products for aerospace and other industries, as well as pipes and related equipment for construction and wastewater treatment, first told regulators in 2006 that it planned to go public.
At that point, the Milwaukee-based company was owned by the private equity firm The Carlyle Group. The plan was scrapped when another private equity firm, Apollo Global Management LLC, offered $1.83 billion for Rexnord.
Rexnord again filed papers with the Securities and Exchange Commission for an initial public offering in 2008 but withdrew them in 2009. It filed a third time in May 2011 and renewed the effort on Monday.
Rexnord said in the newest papers that it plans to sell 23.7 million shares for $18 to $20 apiece. At the midpoint of that price range, the offering would raise more than $450 million and value the company at roughly $1.72 billion.
It plans to use the net proceeds of about $421.3 million mostly to repay debt. It said it had about $2.4 billion in debt as of Dec. 31.
Most of the shares are being sold by Apollo, which currently holds 93.6 percent of the company's shares and will see its stake shrink to 69.1 percent following the IPO. The private equity firm also stands to benefit from a $15 million fee to be paid following completion of the deal.
Chairman George Sherman and other members of Rexnord's management team also are in line for a windfall. Combined, they hold $3.8 million worth of the notes that would be paid off with the proceeds. Sherman, Rexnord's second largest shareholder after Apollo, will hold 6.7 percent of its shares after the IPO.
Whether the third time will be a charm remains a question, though. Its debt is what's been holding up the offering, said Scott Sweet, a senior managing partner at IPO Boutique and a close observer of the market for IPOs.
"Investors are trying to avoid debt," Sweet said. "Debt is viewed as toxic, especially when it's coming from a private equity company."
Rexnord, which still would owe about $2 billion after the IPO, indicated in its papers that its financial performance may be improving. For the nine months that ended Dec. 31, its revenue was higher than a year earlier, and had a profit of $21.3 million, versus a loss of $54 million a year earlier. But it had a loss for the fiscal year that ended in March 2011, even with rising revenue.
Sweet said not all investors are avoiding debt. Last week, shares of Allison Transmissions Holdings Inc. priced higher than expected at its IPO, despite a debt load nearly twice the size of Rexnord's.
The company plans to list its shares on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "RXN."