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By Alexander Hübner and Arno Schuetze
MUNICH (Reuters) - Siemens plans to list its 40 billion euro ($48 billion) healthcare unit Healthineers in March, two people close to the matter said, as the group hopes to execute the deal while market conditions are favourable.
The Frankfurt listing of a minority stake in Healthineers, which makes X-ray and MRI machines, is expected to be Germany's biggest IPO this year. It is likely to be announced in the first few days of March, with an initial public offering taking place four weeks later, the sources said.
Siemens, which is expected to sell 15-25 percent of Healthineers, declined to comment.
World stock markets are close to all-time highs with the combination of solid global growth and low inflation powering the appetite for risk, but some investors worry the rally may be nearing an end.
The German 2018 IPO pipeline looks strong after a lacklustre 2017, when the country saw only 11 IPOs with total proceeds of 2.7 billion euros, pushing Germany's share of European IPOs down to 6 percent from 16 percent a year earlier.
Healthineers' listing is aimed at enabling it to raise its own funds for takeovers and investments in the healthcare sector as well as crystallising its standalone value, removing some of the "conglomerate discount" that weighs on Siemens' valuation.
But Healthineers will be vying for investor attention with the IPO of brake systems maker Knorr-Bremse, which is seen worth 13-15 billion euros and Deutsche Bank's asset management arm DWS, whose listing could value the unit at 8 billion euros.
SpringerNature, the publisher of science magazines Nature and Scientific American and estimated to be worth 4 billion-5 billion euros, is working on a stock market listing too, while German home shopping TV network HSE24 is targeting an IPO that could value it at 1.5 billion euros.
Smaller IPOs such as those of non-prescription drugmaker Dermapharm, machine tool maker United Grinding Group, residential property developer Instone and caravan maker Knaus Tabbert are also in the works.
Siemens aims to discuss its plans for Healthineers at a capital markets day on Jan. 16. That will be followed by a separate presentation to analysts tasked with calculating a company valuation several weeks ahead of the official announcement of the IPO.
($1 = 0.8343 euros)
(Reporting by Alexander Hübner and Arno Schuetze; Editing by Christoph Steitz and Susan Fenton)