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Airbnb is close to filing to go public after travel rebound: sources

Airbnb is close to filing to go public after travel rebound: sources

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3 -min read
Listen to this article

[NEW YORK] Airbnb plans to file paperwork for a stock market listing in the next few weeks paving the way for its shares to start trading as soon as the fourth quarter, according to people familiar with the matter.

The San Francisco-based company is preparing to submit documents confidentially with the US Securities and Exchange Commission for an initial public offering (IPO), said the people, who asked to not be identified discussing private information. The long-awaited move would represent a swift comeback for the home-sharing startup after the coronavirus pandemic sent the travel industry into a tailspin.

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier that Airbnb was planning to file paperwork later this month. Airbnb declined to comment on the matter. The company's plans could change as new outbreaks of the disease continue to flare in the US, the people said.

Airbnb is working with Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs Group on its IPO, according to a person familiar with the matter. Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs declined to comment.

Chief executive officer Brian Chesky had originally wanted to take the initial steps towards a listing in March, but his plans were nixed by Covid-19. By April, Chesky was facing US$1 billion in cancellations, he said in an interview with Bloomberg TV in June. Travel bans and lock-downs caused planned bookings to tumble about 90 per cent and Airbnb cut 25 per cent of its workforce in a bid to survive. Other travel sites, like TripAdvisor and Booking Holdings, also hit crisis mode and had to eliminate thousands of jobs.

But by May, Airbnb was already seeing a rebound. The number of nights booked at US listings between May 17 and June 3 was greater than during the same period the previous year, as city dwellers took advantage of work-from-home policies and escaped apartments for nearby vacation rentals. As at June 17, Airbnb's bookings had increased 20 per cent year over year in the US, according to data from market research firm AirDNA.

Prior to the pandemic, Airbnb had been leaning towards a non-traditional route to the public markets. The company was planning to follow in the footsteps of Spotify Technology and list directly, forgoing raising new money by selling shares and allowing its investors to put their shares on the market without waiting for a lock-up period. But the turmoil caused by the pandemic forced Airbnb to raise US$2 billion in debt and equity securities in April to shore up its finances, reducing its valuation to US$18 billion from US$31 billion. As a result, the company decided to go the traditional IPO route to raise cash for the business, the people said.

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