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HelloFresh plans initial public offering

  • German meal kit delivery company HelloFresh announced plans for an initial public offering, aiming for proceeds of $294 million to $353 million.
  • The flotation that could value the company launched by Rocket Internet at up to $1.8 billion.
  • HelloFresh's biggest market is the United States where it has been spending heavily on discount offers and TV and radio advertising to compete with rivals such as Blue Apron and Plated.

German meal kit delivery group HelloFresh, a competitor to U.S. firm Blue Apron, announced plans to list on Tuesday in a flotation that could value the company launched by Rocket Internet at up to 1.5 billion euros ($1.8 billion).

HelloFresh's biggest market is the United States where it has been spending heavily on discount offers and TV and radio advertising to compete with rivals such as Blue Apron and Plated.

Blue Apron joined the stock market in New York in June but its valuation has halved due to rising costs, declining customer numbers and the threat of competition from Amazon.

The HelloFresh announcement is a boost for German ecommerce investor Rocket Internet, which owns a 53 percent stake. Rocket also invested in takeaway firm Delivery Hero, which has seen its shares rise by a quarter since it listed in Frankfurt in June.

Rocket Internet shares were up 0.9 percent, having hit their highest level in almost five months. Rocket pledged in 2015 to list two companies in the following 18 months.

HelloFresh is planning to sell new shares worth up to 300 million euros, which would give the new investors a 20 percent stake in the company, according to a person close to the deal, implying a valuation of up to 1.5 billion euros for the company.

That is below the 2 billion euro valuation put on the company last December when it raised funds from asset manager Baillie Gifford and Qatar's sovereign wealth fund.

HelloFresh, which increased its number of active customers to 1.3 million in the second quarter, said it would use the proceeds to fund growth as it seeks to make its service more personalized and add more choice, like wine and desserts.

Into the black

While not a direct competitor of HelloFresh, ready meals supplier Bakkavor also announced plans on Tuesday to list at least a quarter of its shares in London in early November, in a deal that sources say could value it at up to 1.5 billion pounds ($2 billion).

HelloFresh, which delivers meal ingredients and recipes in 10 countries, said it expected to break even on an operating level (EBITDA) by early 2019. Its net loss stood at 56.7 million euros in the first half of 2017.

"The public listing marks the next logical step to further expand our business, to secure our position as the leading global player and to pursue our long-term growth strategy," Dominik Richter, co-founder and CEO, said in a statement.

Sources told Reuters in May that a flotation could come as early as autumn after it pulled a previous attempt for a listing in 2015.

HelloFresh reported a 53 percent year-on-year rise in second-quarter revenue to 230.1 million euros, accelerating from a 45 percent increase in the previous quarter.

Berenberg, BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan, and Morgan Stanley are acting as joint global coordinators for the listing.