Friday 23 March 2018

Groupon on brink of best ever deal as executives hope IPO will raise $10bn


Alistair Barr and Clare Baldwin

GROUPON is pushing ahead with plans to go public in the face of a volatile equity market, a recent executive departure and questions about its accounting and financial disclosures, sources said yesterday.

Groupon, the largest daily deal company and owner of Citydeal in Ireland, is planning to launch a roadshow for its initial public offering (IPO) next week, on Monday or Tuesday, three sources familiar with the situation said.

The IPO is expected to value the Chicago-based company at over $10bn (€7.3bn), likely in the range of $11bn to $12bn.

A spokesman for Groupon declined to comment.

In June, Groupon filed for an IPO of up to $750m. It is one of the most hotly anticipated deals in the United States IPO pipeline.

The offering was initially expected to value Groupon at more than $20bn, but the stock market slumped at the end of the summer, disrupting most IPO plans and cutting the value of the few that did get done.

Groupon has never disclosed in its IPO filings how the company would be valued in the IPO.

Groupon has faced criticism for some of its accounting metrics.

The company took a more conservative accounting approach twice, under pressure from regulators and investors, but it is still losing money, partly because of its marketing spending, and faces questions about the sustainability of its business model.


An internal memo from chief executive Andrew Mason disclosing financial information about the company that was not in its IPO filings was leaked to the press in August. This put Groupon under greater regulatory scrutiny.

In late September, Groupon's chief operating officer left to join Google.

"The Groupon story is no longer so compelling," said Scott Sweet of IPO Boutique, a research firm focused on initial public offerings. He added that a valuation above $10bn was "enormous".

"They have always thought that the company is the only one out there doing what it does and that this warrants a high valuation," Mr Sweet said.

"But they are in denial."

Underwriters on the IPO are being led by Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse.


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