Wise Co-Founder Hinrikus Sell Shares in Direct Listing

Wise Plc co-founder Taavet Hinrikus sold a portion of his stake in the money-transfer company when it went public this week, according to people familiar with the matter.

Hinrikus, who’s currently executive chairman of Wise, cashed in on a slice of his 10.85% holding in the group as part of its direct listing on the London Stock Exchange, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is private.

Direct listings allow a company to become publicly traded without paying underwriting fees to bankers, though the route doesn’t allow any fresh fundraising. Backers of Wise -- which include Peter Thiel, Andreessen Horowitz and Baillie Gifford -- were asked to commit stock for sale to provide enough liquidity for trading, the people said.

Wise Co-Founder Hinrikus Sell Shares in Direct Listing

A representative for Wise declined to comment.

Wise began trading at 800 pence on Wednesday, giving Chief Executive Officer Kristo Kaarmann a stake worth about $2 billion and Hinrikus a roughly $1 billion holding, based on shareholding disclosures in the company’s prospectus. The Estonia natives, both 40, started the company around a decade ago after moving to London and becoming frustrated with the high fees banks charged for sending money between the U.K. and their homeland.

Wise’s opening price was set after an hours-long auction. The stock closed up 10% in its first day of trading, valuing it at 8.75 billion pounds ($12 billion), more than double the $5 billion valuation achieved in a July 2020 fundraising. Wise shares rose another 9.7% on Thursday in London.

Senior independent director David Wells, a former chief financial officer at Netflix Inc., will replace Hinrikus as chairman, the company said in its listing prospectus.

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