The fintech unicorn didn’t put a price on its 994mln shares ahead of admission, but simply handed them all to the London Stock Exchange so it could hold an auction. City analysts had forecast a valuation of around £7bn.
They were admitted early on Wednesday morning, but the price came out after 11am after buyers were done making offers. Details on who bought the shares should become available as time progresses.
It’s the first time a direct listing is pursued in London and it may represent a turning point in the UK market. It also confirms the City’s prominence in the European fintech industry.
It is “a watershed moment for London,” as Alasdair Haynes, chief executive officer of Aquis Exchange, told The Telegraph.
“While one deal alone doesn’t a city make, innovative deals of the kind will help establish the UK as a global hub that can compete with the US.”
Normally, companies undertake an initial public offering (IPO), where advisors decide at what price shares should be sold on the first day after consulting City institutions, in a process called bookbuild.
— Wise (ex-TransferWise) (@Wise) July 7, 2021
Wise wanted to cut the middlemen and women as much as possible – just like it does with its international payments – to avoid paying underwriters and diluting the shares.
In fact, the Shoreditch-based startup, which was formerly known as TransferWise, allows customers to move money internationally without the hefty fees usually required from banks.
On Wednesday, Wise also published an independent report from Edgar, Dunn & Co showing that £150bn is spent in ‘hidden’ fees on foreign currency transfers each year.
“It’s important to remember that we’re still very early on in our journey,” said Kristo Käärmann, chief executive and co-founder.
“Moving money into another currency is still a maze of hidden exchange rate mark-ups, high fees, delays, and small print for many people. We’re currently saving customers around £1bn a year in these hidden fees. The £149bn that’s still to go remains our focus.”
Wise has a dual-class share structure as it says this will support the “focus on its mission as it transitions into the public markets”.
But this structure also means it wouldn’t be eligible for entry into any of the FTSE indices and concentrates voting power in the hands of its owners which means shareholders won’t be able to hold management to account to the same degree.
“Clearly the founders still want to keep a strong arm on the tiller of the company as it launches into public waters,” said Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.
“Retail investors should be aware that under such a structure, they won’t have as many voting rights as they might do if they hold shares in other companies listed in London. This arrangement may also put off some institutional investors who are uneasy about the lower levels of corporate governance brought about by a dual-class structure.”
Shares were trading at 807.5p at noon and surged to 841.7p before close.
–Updates share price–