Airbnb takes step towards stock market listing

Airbnb has filed preliminary paperwork for selling stock on Wall Street, undaunted by a global pandemic that has taken some wind out of its home-sharing business.

The San Francisco-based company said it submitted a draft registration statement to the Securities and Exchange Commission, a step to listing.

Airbnb said the number of shares in the company it plans to sell and their price has not yet been determined and the timing of the initial public offering (IPO) also has not been set.

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Airbnb, which was founded 12 years ago, has long been expected to go public and was working on the documents when the pandemic struck in March.

Coronavirus initially hurt demand for the seven million properties listed by Airbnb and chief executive Brian Chesky has said the company’s 2020 revenue will likely be less than half of what it booked last year.

In May, Airbnb cut 1,900 employees, or around 25% of its workforce and the company has funded operations with loans from private equity firms.

But demand has rebounded as some travellers see home rentals as safer during the pandemic than crowded hotels.

The company said guests booked more than a million nights’ worth of future business on July 8, the first time that threshold had been reached since March 3.

“Our business has not recovered, but we are seeing encouraging signs,” Airbnb said in a post on its website last month.

Renaissance Capital, which follows the IPO market, said in a recent note to investors that market conditions for Airbnb are about as strong as the company can hope for.

Airbnb’s IPO “will be a remarkable comeback after the pandemic decimated global travel, and proof that IPO investors think long-term,” Renaissance CEO and co-founder William Smith wrote.