Airbnb value predicted to surge after share sale

Airbnb value predicted to surge after share sale

Holiday booking platform Airbnb is expected to raise as much as $3.5bn (£2.6bn) on Thursday when it first sells shares to the public.

The shares are set to surge, giving a much higher valuation than planned, according to pre-market trading data.

The listing on the Nasdaq stock exchange was expected to give it a market value of more than $42bn.

The flotation – the biggest of the year in the US – is a sign of hope that travel will bounce back quickly.

It also comes as investor appetite for tech firms has sent US markets soaring.

While Airbnb sold the shares at about $68 each, they may start trading at double that price, according to data collected by Reuters.

More companies have raised more money by floating on US exchanges this year than any year since 2014, according to Renaissance Capital, a Connecticut-based firm that offers investments focused on initial public offerings.

In addition to Airbnb, US restaurant delivery company DoorDash raised $3.3bn just this week.

The money raised by Airbnb in the offering was more than the firm had initially hoped – despite the upheaval the pandemic has caused its business, which saw bookings crash this spring, forcing it to slash staff numbers by 25% and raise $2bn in emergency funds.

Last month, Airbnb said bookings had since recovered somewhat, as people looked to escape locked down cities with long-term rentals. And the company reported a surprise profit for the July, August and September months.

“Investors are clearly looking to [Airbnb] for a company that is a long term disruptor but at the same time a short-term winner if and when people start to travel in greater numbers in 2021,” said Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell.

He added: “You’ve also got very, very enthusiastic stock markets right now… Some people think they may be running a little bit too hot but we shall find out.”

Since the firm started as a home-sharing site in 2008, Airbnb has grown into a global juggernaut, with more than four million people listing properties on the platform in countries around the world.

Last year, roughly 54 million people reserved stays through the company, which takes a cut of each booking.

“When they launched they put a lot of pressure on hotel rates and I think they inspired consumers to really create their own travel experience,” said Rebecca Crook, chief growth officer at UK-based digital product agency Somo.

“Because of that they became quite renowned in terms of disrupting what consumers really wanted and expected from travel brands.”

Airbnb’s growth has challenged hotel rivals and causing headaches for cities worried about an influx of tourists to new areas.

Those complaints have subsided since the pandemic, but the threat of more regulation is still a “major risk that Airbnb are going to have to tackle,” Ms Crook said.

The company has also lost money every year since its founding – with losses of roughly $696m in the first nine months of this year.

As of September, bookings remained more than 20% lower than in September 2019. And the firm warned they could fall farther again as officials in some places re-imposed lockdowns.

In Kenya, much of the tourist trade has dried up, said Karen Fraser, who hosts guests in a double decker bus in her garden.

“We’re still getting our weekend bookings… but it’s totally empty during the weeks,” she said.

Prior to the pandemic, the business was doing so well she gave up her day job.

She says she’s hopeful the pandemic has created pent-up demand that will make next year better than ever.

“We’re all hoping for a bumper year,” she said. “Whether that happens or not, we’ll have to wait and see.”

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