Cyber security giant Avast is gearing up for the City’s biggest-ever tech float.
The blockbuster £3billion listing will see the Prague-based company float a quarter of its business on the London Stock Exchange next month. It will aim to raise about £140million to pay down debt, with further plans to raise another £560million also on the table.
The listing is a coup for the City and a sign Brexit has done little to harm London’s standing as the world’s leading financial centre.
Avast is the world’s largest supplier of consumer anti-virus software for computers and smartphones, protecting 435million users from 2billion cyber attacks every month.
It tried to float on New York’s Nasdaq exchange in 2012 but ditched it due to tough market conditions. The public offering in London will be the largest ever by a technology company in the UK. And it puts it head-to-head with British rival Sophos, the City’s only other listed cyber security firm.
Vincent Steckler, Avast’s chief executive, said: ‘Over the past 30 years, Avast has grown from a visionary start-up to the number one consumer cyber security company. This has happened because of the dramatic increase in the number and types of threats around the world which are a growing concern to people, and Avast’s ability to stay ahead of the bad guys.
‘As a leading European tech company, a listing on the London Stock Exchange is a strategic and natural fit, providing us with wider access to the capital markets and supporting the future growth of our business in the years ahead.’
Avast was founded by Czech researchers Eduard Kucera and Pavel Baudis in 1988, when their country was still considered a satellite of the waning Soviet Union.
The partners, who were originally more interested in physics, said they ventured into computer science only because their refusal to join the Communist Party meant they had little prospect of careers in academia.
Since then Avast has grown into a private enterprise employing 1,700 people. Baudis and Kucera own 46 per cent of the company and are still on its board.
If the float goes ahead as planned, Steckler and other senior staff would seek to sell down their 18 per cent stake ahead of tax bills in May. That would put them in line for a £500million payday.
The company uses a so-called ‘freemium’ model, offering its basic product for free, and premium versions with extra features for an annual fee. It controls about a fifth of the market and boasted revenues of £551million last year and profits of £319million. It acquired rival AVG two years ago, significantly expanding its user base.
John Schwarz, Avast’s independent chairman, said: ‘A listing will allow a new generation of investors to benefit from the next phase of Avast’s growth as a public company.’
Read more: http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/markets/article-5609687/Cyber-security-giant-Avast-target-3bn-float-Citys-biggest-tech-listing.html#ixzz5ClvgLNW6
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