* Sets IPO price at 18 Swiss francs per share
* Shares up 2% in early trade
* Bright spot amid dismal European IPO season (Adds shares, detail on IPOs in Europe)
By Michael Shields
ZURICH, Oct 25 (Reuters) - Software management group SoftwareONE set the price of its initial public offering (IPO) on Friday at 18 Swiss francs per share, valuing the company at about 2.8 billion francs ($2.82 billion) in a rare bright spot for European listings.
The oversubscribed IPO on the SIX Swiss Exchange consists of secondary shares, with the firm's founders retaining the largest stake of more than 30% and private equity group KKR, which bought a 25% stake in 2015, keeping around 15%.
SoftwareONE's free float amounts to 24.3% or 28% assuming full exercise of an overallotment option.
Shares gained more than 2% in the first few minutes of trading, hitting a high of 18.49 francs.
Italian luxury yacht maker Ferretti's cancellation of its IPO last week capped a dismal European season for listings amid global trade tensions and Brexit angst.
It was the fourth cancellation in Europe this month, with Kazakhstan's Kaspi.kz postponing a London float and Germany's Domicil Real Estate and Logistrial pulling their deals.
Elsewhere, KKR axed the listing of Latitude Financial in Australia.
Behind the scenes, Swiss vending machine operator Selecta put its own plans for a 2019 IPO on ice after some early investor meetings led management to conclude the valuation they wanted was not achievable, people close to the matter said.
SoftwareONE helps companies manage an estimated 10 billion euros ($11.1 billion) in software purchases from vendors such as Microsoft, Adobe and IBM.
The 20-year-old company posted a gross profit of 724 million francs in 2018 while its adjusted EBITDA margin rose to 33% from 17%.
KKR and the company founders are hoping to benefit from a Swiss stock market at near record highs, with the broad Swiss Performance Index up about a quarter this year.
Credit Suisse, J.P. Morgan and UBS are joint global coordinators and joint bookrunners for SoftwareONE.
BNP Paribas, Citi, Deutsche Bank, Unicredit and Zuercher Kantonalbank are acting as joint bookrunners.
Rothschild & Co acted as financial adviser to SoftwareONE.
$1 = 0.9927 Swiss francs Additional reporting by Arno Schuetze and Abhinav Ramnarayan; editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Jason Neely