Rexel SA, Paris, filed documents in late February with Autorite des Marches Financiers (AMF), France's securities regulators, that will prepare the company to proceed with an initial public stock offering, possibly in March or April, depending on market conditions.

The AMF filing is essentially a declaration of intent to launch an IPO, the first step in the process of taking the company public. If it proceeds, the offering will return Rexel to the Paris exchanges just two years after being acquired from Pinault-Printemps-Redoute and taken private in a $4.9 billion leveraged buyout. At an expected value between $1.3 billion and $2 billion, Rexel's offering would also be the largest IPO France has seen since 2005.

Since the company went private, its owners — led by an investor group including Clayton, Dubilier & Rice; Eurazeo; and Merrill Lynch Global Private Equity — have pursued an aggressive growth-by-acquisition campaign that culminated in Rexel's purchase last year of General Electric's GE Supply for $725 million.

The value of the stock offering is estimated between $1.3 billion and $2 billion, though a final number has yet to be decided. Rexel's market value is estimated at $3.9 billion.