Darktrace Plans First Major London IPO Since Deliveroo Flop
(Bloomberg) -- British cybersecurity company Darktrace Plc announced plans for an initial public offering in London, marking the first major company to plan a listing on the exchange after Deliveroo Holdings Plc flopped in its market debut.
The IPO is expected to value the company at about $3 billion to $4 billion, a person familiar with the matter said. A representative for the company declined to comment on valuation ahead of the shares pricing. Darktrace and shareholders plan to sell at least 20% of the company’s equity, and the stock will trade on the London Stock Exchange’s premium market and be eligible for FTSE’s benchmark stock indexes, the company said in a statement Monday.
Unlike Deliveroo, Darktrace won’t offer a dual-class share structure and will be a more traditional listing for the London market, which may reassure some fund managers. The company will sell new shares to fund product development, and some existing investors also will offer stock, Darktrace said.
“This is a very different technology company,” Chief Executive Officer Poppy Gustafsson said in an interview. “I love Deliveroo. I think it’s great. I can get my favorite burrito delivered on a bicycle, but this is different.”
Darktrace has been putting the pieces in place since at least late 2019 for a public offering. The company was founded in 2013 by veterans of U.S. and British intelligence agencies and mathematicians from the University of Cambridge. Its technology uses artificial intelligence to learn how organizations work and employees communicate to detect irregularities and wall off cyberattacks to prevent them from spreading.
The company plans to use the funds to add to its 1,500 employees, with particular emphasis on its research and development center in Cambridge, Gustafsson said. Darktrace lost $28.7 million on revenue of $199 million for the 12 months ended in June 2020. The company may reach profitability “in the short term,” though growth is the priority for now, she said.
IPO proceeds in London total $9.9 billion this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, on par with 2019 and closing in on the 2020 total of $11.6 billion. Deliveroo, which raised 1.5 billion pounds ($2.1 billion) in its listing March 31, has slumped 35% since it began trading, hit by investor concerns about its gig-economy business model and its dual-class share structure.
Darktrace is one of the companies that received early funding and advice from British entrepreneur Mike Lynch’s Invoke Capital. Lynch, the founder of Autonomy Corp., is awaiting a verdict on a trial involving Autonomy’s more-than $10 billion sale to Hewlett-Packard Co. a decade ago. HP wrote down the vast majority of the deal in 2012 and has alleged that Lynch and his chief financial officer orchestrated an accounting fraud to make Autonomy more attractive in the sale, which both men have denied.
Lynch serves on Darktrace’s science and technology committee. A number of its executives also have Autonomy pedigree, including Gustafsson and Chief Strategy Officer Nicole Eagan.
Invoke is represented on Darktrace’s nine-member board by Vanessa Colomar. Newly appointed Chairman Gordon Hurst is also also on the board of Invoke’s fraud-detection business Featurespace.
Jefferies International Ltd., Joh. Berenberg, Gossler & Co. KG and KKR Capital Markets Partners LLP will arrange the sale if it goes ahead, with Needham & Co. and Piper Sandler & Co. as joint bookrunners.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.