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Waste-management company GFL Environmental Inc. is proceeding with one of Canada’s largest initial public offerings nearly four months after it halted its last attempt to go public.

The Toronto-based company known for its lime-green trucks said on Tuesday it aims to raise as much as US$2.6-billion.

The company pulled a deal to go public in November after investors questioned its heavy debt load. Since then, it has raised $1.4-billion from its private investors, which was used to acquire a U.S. company and to bolster its balance sheet, partly by paying down debt.

GFL is moving forward with the rekindled offering against the backdrop of a market swoon triggered by global economic fears over the coronavirus contagion. Since hitting an all-time high on Thursday, the S&P/TSX composite index has fallen more than 4 per cent. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down nearly 8 per cent over the same period.

ROB Magazine: Trash talking: How Patrick Dovigi built Green For Life into a waste empire

“This is a difficult environment to get an IPO done in, no doubt about it, particularly after this IPO was already pulled off the shelf in a kind of a textbook environment,” said Brian Madden, portfolio manager at Goodreid Investment Counsel. “That’s not to say they won’t get it done, and [GFL’s] publicly traded peers ... are good businesses that crank out free cash flow and dividends quarter in and quarter out.”

The company’s last attempt at going public, which followed an earlier plan it halted in 2018, was aimed at raising US$2.4-billion. That would have made it one of the largest IPOs in Canadian history. The current IPO record holder is Manulife Financial’s US$1.7-billion deal in 1999.

Much of the proceeds will be used to reduce debt, and some may also be used to pay for future takeovers, the company said. Chief executive officer Patrick Dovigi has completed more than 100 in the past 13 years, and GFL revealed in its prospectus that it paid US$380-million for another this month – a Michigan-based waste-disposal company called American Waste Inc. That deal was on the heels of the company’s US$485-million takeover of County Waste of Virginia LLC at the start of the year.

GFL, North America’s fourth largest diversified waste-management business, serves four million households under more than 650 municipal collection contracts, and more than 135,000 commercial and industrial customers. It has operations in nine Canadian provinces and 10 U.S. states, and has more than 11,500 employees.

In its prospectus, the company said current owners, including Mr. Dovigi, BC Partners Advisors LP, Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and GIC, the Singapore sovereign wealth fund, will own 66.3 per cent of the shares and have 75.4 per cent of the voting power, assuming underwriters exercise allotment options.

Under the offering, GFL will sell 73.2 million subordinate voting shares for US$20 to US$21 apiece. The company will also sell 14-million tangible equity units at US$50 a unit. The units include a prepaid stock purchase contract and a senior amortizing note, which is a liability that will be gradually reduced.

Underwriters have the option to purchase another 11 million shares and 2.1 million units to cover overallotments, it said.

Underwriters are led by JPMorgan Chase & Co., Bank of Montreal, Goldman Sachs & Co., Royal Bank of Canada and Bank of Nova Scotia.

The stock will be listed in Toronto and New York under the symbol GFL.

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