Not Looking Good: FriendFinder Networks Said to Delay IPO to Next Week

from – FriendFinder Networks Inc., the publisher of Penthouse magazine, has pushed back its initial public offering scheduled for today until next week, according to a person familiar with the situation.

FriendFinder, the Boca Raton, Florida-based operator of Web sites from to, had planned to raise as much as $240 million selling 20 million shares at $10 to $12 each today, a Jan. 8 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission and Bloomberg data show. Marc Bell, FriendFinder’s chief executive officer, declined to comment.

The delay comes after Terreno Realty Corp. became the first U.S. company to postpone a 2010 IPO this week, Cellu Tissue Holdings Inc. cut its price by 24 percent and Chesapeake Lodging Trust raised 40 percent less than originally sought, Bloomberg data show. FriendFinder has lost money for five straight years and was in default on its debt covenants until October.

“The IPO market may be softer than we initially thought,” said Steven M. Rogé, manager at R.W. Rogé & Co. in Bohemia, New York, which has $200 million in assets. “It’s another important bullet point of news for companies that want to go public, but this was a risky company from the beginning and the postponement might be a function of that as well.”

While U.S. IPOs are forecast to triple according to London based Barclays Plc, 2010’s first offers show buyers are wary of new offerings after almost 40 percent of deals in the second half of 2009 left investors with losses.

Outside the U.S., Moscow-based United Co. Rusal, the world’s largest aluminum producer, fell 11 percent in its first day of trading today after raising HK$17.4 billion ($2.24 billion) in the first IPO by a Russian company in Hong Kong. Denmark’s Dong Energy A/S has indefinitely postponed an offering that analysts estimated may have raised $3.5 billion in 2008 because of “uncertainty” in financial markets.

FriendFinder was offering shares after the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell the most since October last week.

The publisher, which also runs so-called general audience social networking venues from to, got about 70 percent of its revenue from its adult-themed Web sites in the first nine months of 2009, according to the SEC regulatory filing.

The company was selling a 49 percent stake and planned to use the proceeds to pay down debt. After the offering, it would have $5.24 million in cash compared with $286 million in debt.

FriendFinder’s sales would have declined 1.5 percent in 2009 from a year ago, based on $244 million in revenue generated in the first nine months of the year. Sales from both its adult- themed and general audience sites fell during the nine-month period from a year ago, while interest expenses exceeded operating profit by 66 percent.

“The biggest concern is just the fact that it’s got a lot of debt and really hasn’t grown,” said Nick Einhorn, an analyst at Greenwich, Connecticut-based Renaissance Capital LLC, which has followed IPOs since 1991. The firm isn’t affiliated with FriendFinder’s lead underwriter of the same name. “Companies that have lots of debt and slowed growth have really not been attractive for investors,” he said before the delay.

Playboy Enterprises Inc., the owner of the namesake men’s magazine, had operating income equal to 1.02 times interest expenses of $4.46 million in 2008 as the Chicago-based company posted its biggest annual loss since at least 1987.

FriendFinder has also lost about as many fee-paying subscribers from its adult-themed Web sites as it has gained in each of the past four years. It had breached loan agreements in such areas as failing to deliver certified annual financial statements, missing certain sales targets for the films that it produced and distributed and not keeping senior debt below certain levels.

Renaissance Capital of Moscow and Ledgemont Capital Group LLC in New York are the lead underwriters for FriendFinder. While neither firm was credited with arranging any U.S. company IPOs last year, according to Bloomberg league tables, Renaissance helped manage Rusal’s IPO, the biggest of 2010.

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