Wall Street thinks the contemplated spinoff of Moneygram, the consumer funds transfer network that First Data Corp. agreed to divest, would be a hit with investors, who seem fascinated with anything involving electronic commerce.
First Data agreed to the divestiture last year so it could buy First Financial Management Corp., whose Western Union subsidiary was a competitor of Moneygram's.
In January, First Data filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission for an initial public offering of 27.1 million shares, priced at $15 to $17 per share.
Lehman Brothers is underwriting the offering, which includes an overallotment of 4.07 million shares.
In its latest earnings statement, First Data said it would either sell Moneygram outright or bring the company public.
Some Wall Street analysts are hoping for the latter, especially since the recent, spectacular IPO of Cybercash Inc., an electronic commerce company that saw its share price nearly double in less than two weeks.
"It hasn't been 100% decided that they'll go with the IPO, but the odds are pretty good that they will do it," said an analyst who asked not to be named.
"But if you're negotiating with potential buyers, filing for an IPO can be a good bargaining chip," the analyst added. "But the advantage of going to the market is that you're not going to create all the goodwill you would with an acquisition."
Whatever the outcome, Moneygram's executives said last week that the unit's transaction volume had grown 60% last year from 1994's and that it would further expand its network this year throughout Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America.