Zalando, Rocket set to launch in Frankfurt | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 18.09.2014
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Zalando, Rocket set to launch in Frankfurt

As online fashion retailer Zalando has started selling shares to private investors, parent company Rocket Internet also goes public ''later in 2014''. The companies' young owners stand to become overnight billionaires.

Online Fashion retailer Zalando began issuing shares to private investors on Thursday, ahead of an October 1st IPO in Frankfurt. Zalando's launch is expected to generate revenues of up to 633 million euros ($815 million). It's shares are currently priced at between 18 euros and 22.50 euros apiece.

Zalando has ballooned exponentially since it was founded in 2008 and now employs some 7,000 people. It recently reported revenues of 1.05 billion euros and its first operating profit of 12 million euros for the first half of 2014. Zalando will place 11.3 percent of its stock on the open market.

Budding billionaires

Rocket Internet CEO Oliver Samwer

42-year old Oliver Samwer is the public face of the three brothers

Owners Oliver Samwer and his brothers Marc and Alexander also hold the majority of Rocket Internet, which specializes in launching e-commerce startups. Rocket says it aims to raise 750 million euros ($968 million) in its own IPO although it has given no specific date beyond " later in 2014". It aims to become the leading Internet platform outside the US and China.

The flotations will likely make the three brothers into Germany's newest billionaires. After deciding as teenagers to go into business together they will now profit from the estimated 5 billion euros ($6.5 billion) flotation of Rocket, in which their Global Founders Fund has a 52.3 percent stake. Their 17 percent stake in Zalando could be worth 4.5 billion euros. Separate flotations of other Rocket start-ups might follow next year.

Internet incubator

Zalando is Rocket Internet's most prominent success. It has also breathed life into dozens of other startups since 2007. Those protegés now employ a total of 20,000 people in over 100 countries. They include food delivery site HelloFresh, online furniture shop Home24 and personal storage company SpaceWays. Each new startup receives funding, logistical support and a few months to become successful.

Rocket's strategy is to focus on three main sectors:

E-commerce, including retail in fashions, general merchandise, home and living, office supplies and food and groceries;

Marketplace which brings buyers and sellers into direct contact for transactions in real estate and automobile online classified ads, travel and transport, and food delivery companies;

Financial Technology companies focus on bringing together borrowers and lenders in regions and segments that are underserved by traditional banks.

Multibillion euro business and job motor

Rocket recently received large cash injections by selling stakes to the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company and Germany's United Internet.

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Those investments valued Rocket at between 3.3 billion euros and 4.1 billion euros.

Rocket's IPO announcement came just ahead of a joint survey by consultancy KPMG and the German Startup Association study which says Internet startups have become a new driving force behind job creation and economic growth. The study says German Internet startups plan to add an average 10 jobs each over the next year. The 900 company survey also pinpointed the German capital Berlin as the country's startup capital, with 39 percent of the companies.

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