Skift Take

Being original can be overrated at times.

Rocket Internet AG, the technology investor known for replicating businesses from Groupon Inc. to Airbnb Inc., plans to raise as much as 1.4 billion euros ($1.8 billion) in what could be Germany’s largest initial public offering this year.

As many as 32.9 million new shares are being offered at a range of 35.50 euros to 42.50 euros apiece, Berlin-based Rocket said in a statement today. The offer period will begin tomorrow and end Oct. 7. At the midpoint of the price range and including an overallotment, the seven-year-old business controlled by Germany’s Samwer brothers would have a market value of 6.2 billion euros, the statement shows.

Cornerstone investors have committed to buy 582.5 million euros of shares in the offering. The company will be listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange beginning Oct. 9.

Proceeds from the IPO will let Chief Executive Officer Oliver Samwer push Rocket deeper into emerging markets such as Latin America and Asia by mimicking successful e-commerce companies. Zalando SE, the shoe and fashion retailer that received initial funding from Rocket in 2008, is making its own trading debut next week as it seeks to raise as much as 633 million euros.

Rocket’s IPO could surpass BRAAS Monier Building Group SA’s $640 million sale in June and become the largest in Germany this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Initial sales in the country raised about $1.3 billion in the first half, less than half what they did in the same period last year, the data show.

In meetings with investors, Rocket has compared its business model with that of Jack Ma’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce operator, surged 38 percent in its U.S. trading debut on Sept. 19 to value the company at more than $230 billion.

Lamoda, Westwing

Ten Rocket e-commerce startups for which shareholder Investment AB Kinnevik disclosed earnings — including Lamoda, Dafiti and Westwing — had an aggregate operating loss of 432 million euros last year on sales of 743 million euros, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Samwer said this month that the company plans to eventually become profitable and that it targets investors seeking long-term growth.

Brothers Marc, Oliver and Alexander Samwer got their start setting up a German version of EBay Inc. in 1999, and have since duplicated sites such as those of EHarmony Inc. and Pinterest Inc. Rocket typically starts the companies, hires staff and provides initial marketing, design and management know-how.

Capital Injection

Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. and Germany’s United Internet AG last month injected 768 million euros into Rocket. Rocket subsequently got a bigger hold on several of its investments in an deal that gave a 2.5 percent stake to Holtzbrinck Ventures GmbH.

After that transaction, Rocket’s largest shareholder is the Samwer brothers’ Global Founders Fund with a 52.3 percent stake. Kinnevik of Sweden holds 18.1 percent, United Internet has 10.4 percent, Philippine Long Distance Telephone holds 8.4 percent, and billionaire Len Blavatnik’s Access Industries has 8.3 percent.

Berenberg Bank, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Morgan Stanley are arranging the share sale. Bank of America Corp.’s Merrill Lynch, Citigroup Inc. and UBS AG are joint bookrunners.

–With assistance from Aaron Kirchfeld and Ruth David in London.

To contact the reporters on this story: Cornelius Rahn in Berlin at; Aaron Ricadela in Frankfurt at To contact the editors responsible for this story: Kenneth Wong at 

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Tags: airbnb, germany, ipo, otas, wimdu

Photo Credit: Rocket-backed Wimdu is one of Airbnb's biggest competitors in Europe. Wimdu

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