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Russia’s Whoosh eyes $400 mln valuation in upcoming IPO

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MOSCOW — Russian electric scooter company Whoosh is moving towards a possible $400 million valuation in its upcoming initial public offering (IPO), the first Russian market debut since Moscow sent troops into Ukraine in February.

The company said on Monday it expects up to 5 billion roubles ($80.4 million) of shares could be sold in the IPO – both through an additional stock issue and as existing shareholders sell down their stakes – at a launch price of between 185-225 roubles per share.

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Although modest in size, Whoosh’s stock market debut will be seen as a key test of the health of Russia’s capital markets more than nine months after the West imposed sanctions on Moscow for its actions in Ukraine, cutting much of Russia’s financial sector off from Western investment.

“Whoosh’s IPO may be the first one on the Russian market this year … we are glad to see that our intention to hold an IPO has received a big response from the investment community” founder and general director Dmitry Chuyko said.

Whoosh said it would use the IPO proceeds to invest in more scooters and continue expanding across Russia and other ex-Soviet countries.

At least 10 Russian companies had been looking to go public in 2022, advisers and bankers said late last year, before Russia’s IPO market stalled following the launch of what the Kremlin calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine.

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Whoosh said the company’s market capitalisation following the IPO could be 21-25 billion roubles ($338-$403 million), based on the target prices and offer size.

A source familiar with the IPO plans told Reuters that online bank Tinkoff was among a number of other lenders with strong retail expertise participating in the offering. Another source said some brokerages in Russia would be actively involved.

Tinkoff had no immediate comment.

Russian retail investors are likely to play a prominent role as Western financial institutions shun Russia. An investment banking source last week said the placement would target institutional as well as retail investors.

The company said 2.5 billion roubles could be raised through an additional share issue, and existing shareholders also planned to sell up to 2.5 billion roubles to boost trading liquidity.

The deal is expected to close by mid-December.

($1 = 62.20 roubles) (Reporting by Alexander Marrow, Jake Cordell and Olga Popova; Editing by Jacqueline Wong, Kenneth Maxwell and Jane Merriman)

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