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Australia – Freelancer leadership to retain control after IPO

15 October 2013

Freelancer.com founder Matt Barrie and his leadership team will maintain almost complete control over the company after the company’s IPO, with the firm’s prospectus revealing plans to issue shares for just 6.9% of the company, reports businessinspector.com.au.

The IPO prospectus values Freelancer.com at AUD 218 million (USD 208.5 million) and comes almost a month after Freelancer.com allegedly turned down a USD 400 million deal from Japanese firm Recruit Co.

The online offshoring platform has quashed predictions that it would be holding the largest Australian tech company IPO in history, announcing that it only intends to raise under AUD 15 million (USD 14.3 million) by going public. The public will only be entitled to 30 million shares valued at AUD 0.50 each. 

Mr Barrie will hold onto the majority (46%) of the company’s shares, a slight dilution of his existing 50% stake. Meanwhile, founding investor Simon Clausen will assume a 38.8% stake in the company and Freelancer.com’s chief technology officer Darren Williams will receive 2.9% stake in the firm.

Other existing shareholders will retain a 4.6% stake of company, and current employees will be offered a 1.6% stake.

In the prospectus, Mr Barrie warned that Freelancer.com will not provide a quick return for investors. Over the past three years, Freelancer.com has posted strong growth in its gross profits, but has also seen a gradual decline in its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA).

Mr Barrie said in the prospectus: “Freelancer has always focused on long-term growth at the expense of short-term profit, and it is expected that this will continue for the foreseeable future. Therefore, the company plans to continue to reinvest strategically to achieve growth, which may result in a period of minimal operating profits.”

He added: “We do not expect to pay dividends in the near future.”

In the prospectus, Freelancer.com also clarified that it is looking to use the funds to expand overseas, with the aim of targeting developing countries. The firm is basing its expansion plans on figures from the US census bureau that estimated around 60% of the world’s population are yet to use the internet.

The prospectus stated: “Almost 4.5 billion people are ready to join the internet. When they do so, they will need a job, as today they live on less than AUD 10 per day. It is likely that they will use the internet to find work. Freelancer is well positioned for the future as a result.”

Applications for the offer are set to open on October 21, with the company expected to list on the ASX by 15 November. 

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