Wise plans first direct listing of tech firm in London
Posted on June 18, 2021 by Jonathan Symcox
Payments firm Wise is seeking the first direct listing of a technology company on the London Stock Exchange.
In contrast to a traditional Initial Public Offering, a direct listing is a fairer, cheaper and more transparent way for a company to broaden its ownership.
Wise says the move is aligned with its mission to move money around the world faster, cheaper and more conveniently.
The London company plans to establish a customer shareholder programme, OwnWise, which will reward customers joining as shareholders after admission.
OwnWise, now open for pre-applications from UK eligible customers, provides participants with the chance to receive bonus shares in Wise, representing 5% of the value of the shares they buy and hold for at least 12 months – based on market value at the time of purchase – up to a cap of £100, amongst other perks.
All existing investors, including the company’s team of current and previous employees who hold options and shares, will be offered time-limited enhanced voting shares.
The direct listing is possible due to the company’s sustainable approach to growth. Wise has been profitable since 2017 and reached £421 million of revenue in FY2021.
The company has no plans to raise primary capital and will trade on the main market of the London Stock Exchange.
“Wise is used to challenging convention, and this listing is no exception,” said CEO and co-founder Kristo Käärmann.
“We’re fixing a huge, structural problem on a global scale, and one which requires enormous discipline to solve. Operating sustainably, with a profit margin, helps us track our journey to lower prices for customers as we scale and remove costs.
“By bringing transparency and fairness into how we price our products, we’ve found a common ground of creating massive value for our customers, and also for our shareholders.
“Bringing in the people we serve as owners of Wise is something I’ve long wanted to do. Recently, we welcomed our first customer owners by gifting shares to a group of 1,800 active customers. Because of the long-term nature of our mission, we’ve always chosen shareholders with an understanding of, and passion for, the problem we’re solving.
“A direct listing, combined with a widely available dual class share structure, allows us to bring customers and other like-minded investors into our shareholder base, whilst keeping the focus on our deeply ingrained mission as we grow at speed.”