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Rocket Internet Prices Shares at Top of Range

Germany's biggest tech IPO since the dot-com bust.

Reuters / Dado Ruvic

Rocket Internet, the global e-commerce investor, is selling its shares at 42.50 euros apiece, or the top of the price range, as investors flock to tap into a new wave of Internet startup listings.

The Rocket flotation comes hot on the heels of the blockbuster debut of China’s Alibaba and just a day after the listing of Zalando, a European fashion site that Rocket helped found.

Rocket is joining a flurry of German companies, traditionally seen as risk-averse, that are warming to sell shares on equity markets, where volumes are at a seven-year high globally.

The Berlin-based group had offered its shares in a 35.50-42.50 euros range, and then brought its IPO forward by one week, citing “exceptional investor demand.”

“The offering was over-subscribed, well in excess of 10 times at the top end of the price range,” it said in a statement late on Wednesday.

The share listing is expected to raise gross proceeds of 1.4 billion euros ($1.77 billion) without the “greenshoe option,” and 1.6 billion if it is exercised.

Founded in 2007 by brothers Oliver, Alexander and Marc Samwer, Rocket Internet has set up e-commerce sites and online marketplaces for everything from taxis to meal deliveries in more than 100 countries, bringing in revenue of $1 billion in 2013.

Rocket wants to replicate the success of Amazon and Alibaba in markets that the U.S. and Chinese groups have yet to dominate, such as Africa, Latin America, Russia and other parts of Asia.

The flotation values Rocket Internet at 6.7 billion euros, making it Germany’s biggest technology listing since the bursting of the dot-com bubble a decade ago and also making billionaires of the three Samwer brothers, who own 52.3 percent of the Rocket stock as well as a stake in Zalando.

Rocket wants to use the proceeds to fund the launch of new companies, finance existing firms and consolidate Rocket’s stakes in some of its more established companies.

In its prospectus, Rocket had said its top 11 ventures, including Russian fashion site Lamoda and Indian online store Jabong, had generated aggregated net losses of 442 million euros in 2013.

The Rocket group’s own revenues, which it makes by charging consultancy fees to the companies it sets up, rose 43 percent to 47 million euros in the first half of 2014, while it made a net loss of 13.3 million as expenses rose.

Rocket says it can launch a company within 100 days by drawing on expertise at its Berlin head office in areas such as finance, communications, marketing and business intelligence, helping it start an average of three to six new firms a year.

Berenberg, JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley are joint coordinators of the offer, while BofA Merrill Lynch, Citigroup and UBS are joint bookrunners.

(1 US dollar = 0.7933 euro)

(Reporting by Arno Schuetze and Alexander Huebner; additional reporting by Victoria Bryan; editing by David Clarke)

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