SAO PAULO, Nov 24 (Reuters) - Brazilian homebuilder Gafisa SA aims to raise up to 660 million reais ($192 million) with an initial public offering of Construtora Tenda SA, a builder of low-cost homes, the first IPO by a Brazilian construction company in seven years.
In a securities filing on Thursday, São Paulo-based Gafisa said it would put up to 40 million Tenda shares up for sale. Gafisa set a suggested price range for the IPO of between 12.50 reais and 16.50 reais per Tenda share.
Listing Tenda on the São Paulo Stock Exchange would allow investors to take advantage of a three-year turnaround that has seen it return to profit and deliver a return on equity narrowly behind that of larger segment rivals MRV Engenharia SA and Direcional Engenharia SA.
Reuters reported in August that Gafisa considered a Tenda IPO more effective than a spinoff as a way to raise cash and reduce a debt burden nearing the equivalent of 80 percent of equity.
The interest in a Tenda IPO, which would be the first for a Brazilian homebuilder since Direcional's in November 2009, comes as investors see signs a four-year crisis in the industry is close to bottoming out.
An index grouping construction companies trading in São Paulo is up 29 percent this year, bucking three straight years of declines.
Based on the filing's numbers, Gafisa values Tenda at 1.7 billion reais, twice analyst estimates when news of a Tenda IPO plan surfaced. The companies already have independent management and operate in different markets.
The transaction will be a so-called secondary offering, in which the seller keeps all the proceeds from the deal. Shares of Gafisa are down 12 percent this year.
According to the filing, the IPO could also be increased by so-called additional and supplementary allotments of 6 million shares and 8 million shares of Tenda, respectively. The placement of those allotments usually hinges on the strength of investor demand for the deal.
Pricing could take place as early as Dec. 13, with shares starting to trade two days later under the symbol "TEND3."
Gafisa hired Banco Bradesco SA, Banco do Brasil SA, Itaú Unibanco Holding SA, Banco Votorantim SA and Bank of America Corp to underwrite the deal. They stand to receive 25 million reais in fees if the IPO prices at the mid-point of the suggested range. ($1 = 3.4353 reais) (Reporting by Guillermo Parra-Bernal; Editing by Adrian Croft)