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Online accommodation platform Airbnb revives IPO plans

written by Bella Palmer

The company has filed a confidential registration statement with the US SEC, although it did not elaborate further

Online accommodation booking platform Airbnb has revived plans to pursue an initial public offering (IPO) in what could be one of the largest market floats this year.

On Wednesday, the company said it has filed a confidential registration statement with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, although it did not include any details regarding the timing or the size of the IPO.

The plans emerged after the company raised around US$2bn in funding at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, which caused a rash of cancellations and refunds across its platform as lockdown measures and quarantine restrictions slammed the brakes on most people’s travel plans.

The fundraising implied a value for the company of around US$18bn, a possible market cap when the IPO occurs, however, this is down from the US$32bn valuation it achieved in a 2017 funding round.

Airbnb has also moved to cut costs to shore up the business as it faces a sharp revenue decline, including laying off around a quarter of its employees and scrapping its marketing spending.

However, despite the recent valuation downturn and pandemic disruption, eToro analyst Adam Vettese was upbeat in comments issued on Wednesday.

Airbnb has been one of most eagerly awaited IPOs among the tech unicorns, likely to be valued at a staggering US$38bn. Unlike many of its tech peers however, Airbnb is already a profitable business – undoubtedly instilling confidence among investors for the future, Vettese said

This strong performance means the business is not going public out of immediate financial necessity – in fact, it last fundraised in 2017. For now the timeline to IPO is fairly relaxed, and we could even see further extensions as senior management get their house back in order following the resignation of its CFO in February, he added.


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