Deliveroo Kicks Off London IPO, Bolstering Busy U.K. Market

Food-delivery company Deliveroo kicked off an initial public offering in London that could raise billions of pounds and put the U.K. market on track for its best-ever first quarter.

The startup plans to raise capital by selling new stock, while existing holders also will sell shares, according to a statement Monday that didn’t provide details on the size of the planned offering. The Inc.-backed company was valued at more than $7 billion in its latest funding round.

Deliveroo will list with a dual-class share structure, effective for three years, to provide Chief Executive Officer Will Shu with the stability to execute long-term plans, the company said last week. As such, the stock is ineligible for the London Stock Exchange’s premium segment and can’t be included in benchmark indexes such as the FTSE 100, despite its expected size.

Deliveroo Kicks Off London IPO, Bolstering Busy U.K. Market

This year, 13 firms have raised 4.3 billion pounds ($5.9 billion) in London, data compiled by Bloomberg show. And Deliveroo is anticipated to add billions to this tally before the end of the month, meaning the U.K. IPO market could be on course to surpass its biggest first quarter on record in 2006, when proceeds reached 6.4 billion pounds.

London-based Deliveroo’s planned offering follows the publication of a government-backed report last week that made a slew of recommendations to reform U.K. listing rules. The proposals include allowing dual-class share structures on the premium segment of the LSE, but it could be months before these are effective, confining the company to the standard listing segment for now.

Deliveroo’s Class A shares, to be offered in the IPO, will have one vote each, while Shu will hold all of the Class B shares that carry 20 votes each. On the third anniversary of the IPO, the Class B stock will automatically convert into Class A.

Read More: Deliveroo Plans to List in London With Dual-Class Structure

Such structures could be gaining traction among U.K.-based technology startup founders. E-commerce operator THG Plc set up a golden share, which allows its founder to fend off unwanted takeover bids for three years, in its 1.88 billion-pound offering in September, London’s biggest since mid-2017. The stock has risen more than 30% since then.

Dual-class shares are more common in the U.S., used by the likes of Google parent Alphabet Inc. and Facebook Inc., where the weighted voting rights are kept in perpetuity. Some investors have balked at bringing the practice to the U.K., saying it dilutes corporate governance norms by allowing founders to retain control after taking their companies public. Both THG and Deliveroo put in a sunset clause, meaning a time limit, on this share structure, mitigating the risks for post-IPO shareholders.

Lockdown Winner

After initially struggling at the start of lockdowns, Deliveroo got a boost as restaurants stopped providing service indoors, pushing more and more customers to order takeout meals and even groceries. Bloomberg News reported the startup’s plans to tap public markets in September.

“Covid has accelerated the transition of food online,” Shu said in an interview, adding that the company is “confident about the behavior of the new consumer base,” even after coronavirus restrictions lift. “We can be confident that the growth trajectory will continue,” he said.

The company’s gross transaction value -- the total amount of transactions processed on its platform -- grew by 64.3% to 4.1 billion pounds in 2020, compared with the previous year, while underlying gross profit nearly doubled to 357.5 million pounds, according to the statement. Deliveroo reported reported a loss of 9.6 million pounds last year before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.

Across Europe, beneficiaries of the pandemic-fueled migration to online services are cashing in via IPOs. Poland’s InPost SA, which operates automated parcel lockers for deliveries, surged in its Amsterdam debut in late January, while digital used-car dealer Auto1 Group SE raised 1.8 billion euros in Frankfurt last month.

London has been Europe’s busiest venue this year. Deals include British bootmaker Dr. Martens Plc, which soared in its debut last month, while virtual greeting-card and gifting firm Moonpig Group Plc floated in February. Foreign issuers are also lining up to list: Trustpilot, a Denmark-based online platform for consumer reviews, has laid out plans for a U.K. IPO, while Russia’s largest dollar-store chain Fix Price made its trading debut in the City on Friday after a $1.7 billion offering.

Founded in 2013, Deliveroo has 115,000 food merchant partners and more than 100,000 delivery riders in the U.K. and overseas, according to Monday’s statement. The company said it plans to create a fund to help restaurants and grocers in rebuilding their businesses after the pandemic, and also will give its “longest-serving and hardest-working riders” individual payments of as much as 10,000 pounds. Deliveroo will also make 50 million pounds of shares available to its customers as part of a “community offer.”

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. are joint global coordinators on the offering, while Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc., Jefferies and Numis Securities Ltd. are joint bookrunners.

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