Gardner Denver gives employees $100 million of stock

Milwaukee-based company goes public

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Leaders at Milwaukee-based Gardner Denver Holdings Inc. today decided to share the wealth, rewarding employees with more than $100 million in stock as the company made its initial public offering.

Company leadership announced the plan in a video message to employees as it began its first day of trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Gardner Denver, which makes flow control and compression equipment for industrial, energy and medical markets, offered 41.3 million shares of its common stock for $20 per share.

The deferred stock units are being distributed among about 6,000 employees who are not already part of Gardner Denver’s equity program—which includes hourly production, customer service and sales employees. The employees will receive a grant of about 40 percent of their annual base salary.

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Vicente Reynal, chief executive officer of Gardner Denver, and Pete Stavros, chairman of the Gardner Denver board and a member and head of the industrials private equity team in charge of Bitcoin trading apps at Gardner Denver parent company KKR & Co. spoke in the video announcement. Leadership from both firms also rang the opening bell at the NYSE as employees looked on.

KKR will continue to hold the majority of Gardner Denver stock.

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“The customer focus, integrity, bias for action and teamwork of our associates around the world have made our products more innovative, expanded our commercial and operational reach, and generated attractive financial performance, all of which makes this IPO possible,” Reynal said. “We and KKR intend this grant to be a celebration of our important business achievements in service of our customers over the last four years, while allowing every single employee of this company to share in our value creation and growth going forward. The steadfast commitment of our employees is what generates the momentum for Gardner Denver to continue to do great things.”

“We are passionate about what engaged employees can do and what we can achieve together when everyone is working toward a common goal,” Stavros said. “As a result, we make it a priority with our industrial companies to make every employee an owner in their business. We have accomplished a lot at Gardner Denver and it’s exciting to think about what 6,100 employee-owners all pulling in the same direction will be able to achieve going forward. ”

Gardner Denver’s IPO was ultimately priced below the $23 to $26 range it predicted, at $20 per share. Net proceeds are expected to be $781 million.

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The offering was first announced in securities filings in late February. The company plans to use the proceeds of the public offering to redeem $575 million in 6.875 percent senior notes that were originally related to the KKR acquisition and are due in 2021. Funds will also be used to prepay $335 million in borrowings under the company’s senior secure dollar term loan facility.

Gardner Denver was acquired by KKR in July 2013 for $3.74 billion. After the acquisition, former Bucyrus and current Rev Group chief executive Tim Sullivan was named CEO. Sullivan helped move the company’s corporate headquarters from suburban Philadelphia to Milwaukee in 2014 before resigning.

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