Airbnb Inc. is close to filing to go public in a move that would underscore a surprising rebound for the home-sharing giant and the IPO market. The company plans to file IPO paperwork with the Securities and Exchange Commission later this month, laying the groundwork for a potential listing before the end of the year, according to people familiar with the matter. Morgan Stanley has been tapped to lead the offering, with Goldman Sachs Group Inc. also playing a key role, the people said. 

There is no guarantee Airbnb will move forward on the expected timeline, in part because of the uncertain timing of the SEC’s review process and since there is no telling whether stocks will still be in favor with investors by the time the company is ready to stage an offering. A listing could take different forms: The company could pursue a traditional IPO, launch a direct listing—in which no money is raised—or take advantage of the latest trend of merging with a blank-check company.

The company was expected to go public earlier this year but put those plans on hold due to the Covid-19 pandemic and laid off 25% of its staff, or roughly 1,900 employees, to cut costs. At the time, CEO Brian Chesky told employees that its 2020 revenue will be less than half of what the company earned in 2019. The pandemic has been a huge hurdle for the short-term rental company to overcome, as it has devastated the travel and hospitality industries. 

Airbnb’s private valuation has dropped to $18 billion, down from the $31 billion figure when it raised a round of funding in 2017. The company also raised $1 billion in April in equity and debt from Silver Lake and Sixth Street Partners to get through the crisis. It raised another $1 billion just a week later from Fidelity, T. Rowe Price and BlackRock.

Todd Horwitz Chief Strategist BubbaTrading.com
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