Airbnb submits filings for stock market debut

The company had originally planned to begin listing process in March but bookings were hit by Covid-19

(FILES) This file illustration photo taken on November 22, 2019 shows the logo of the online lodging service Airbnb displayed on a smartphone in Paris. Home-sharing startup Airbnb on August 19, 2020 said it has confidentially filed with US regulators for an initial public offering. The number of shares and price has yet to be determined, according to the San Francisco-based company. / AFP / Lionel BONAVENTURE

Airbnb said it has filed to go public in a long-awaited listing as the company emerges from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

The San Francisco-based company said in a statement that it has submitted its filing for an initial public offering confidentially to the US Securities and Exchange Commission. The size and price range for the offering haven’t been set yet, the company said.

Airbnb remains one of the most highly anticipated stock listings of this year. Chief executive Brian Chesky had originally intended to initiate the listing process with the SEC on March 31. That was before Covid-19 closed borders, grounded flights and left the company with more than $1 billion (Dh3.67bn) in cancellations. With the markets in turmoil, plans were put on hold.

The comeback for travel following the first peak of the pandemic was faster than expected, though, helping to keep Airbnb’s plans for a public market debut moving ahead.

The company began seeing signs of recovery in June, with bookings down only 30 per cent for the month in 2019, sources said. That compared with a 70 per cent decline in May from a year earlier.

“The trajectory that Airbnb would’ve seen had we not been in the midst of a pandemic would’ve been so much more impressive,” said Arun Sundararajan, a professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business. “Against the odds, it appears the stock market is still receptive to tech IPOs.”

While it’s risky for any company in the travel industry to be going public this year, there’s growing evidence investors think tech platforms are going to control a larger portion of the economy, Mr Sundararajan said.

Airbnb’s revenue fell to $335 million in the second quarter, the sources said. That was down at least 67 per cent from the more than $1bn the company reported in the same period last year, a shift that reflects the magnitude of the impact of the pandemic on global travel. It was also a steep decline from the $842m in sales in the first quarter, according to financial information viewed by Bloomberg.

Airbnb recorded a loss before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation of $400m for the three months ended in June, sources said. The company reported an adjusted loss of $341m in the first quarter, compared with a loss of $292 million a year earlier.

Airbnb was valued at $31bn at its peak in a 2017 private fund-raising round, though $2bn in debt issuance to shore up its finances this year has significantly reduced that valuation. In a round of debt and equity securities in April that included Silver Lake and Sixth Street Partners, the warrants valued the company at $18bn.

Airbnb had been leaning towards a direct listing in which it wouldn’t raise money by selling new shares as it would in a traditional IPO. Instead, its investors could have put their shares on the market without waiting for a lock-up period.

Two other San Francisco-area technology companies, Palantir Technologies and Asana, are moving ahead with direct listings in late September, people familiar with their plans have said.

Airbnb said its IPO would take place after the SEC completes its review, subject to market and other conditions.