Groupon CEO says exploring IPO; no decision

MUNICH, Germany Mon Jan 24, 2011 7:23pm EST

An online coupon sent via email from Groupon is pictured on a laptop screen November 29, 2010 in Los Angeles. REUTERS/Fred Prouser

An online coupon sent via email from Groupon is pictured on a laptop screen November 29, 2010 in Los Angeles.

Credit: Reuters/Fred Prouser

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Groupon mulling IPO- CEO

Mon, Jan 24 2011

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MUNICH, Germany (Reuters) - Daily deals website Groupon is considering an initial public offering and is in talks with bankers, founder and Chief Executive Andrew Mason told Reuters on Monday.

"We've met with a bunch of bankers, we're exploring whether or not it makes sense for us but we haven't made a decision. We're still in the learning phase," Mason said in an interview at the DLD media conference in Munich.

A source familiar with the matter told Reuters that Groupon was meeting with bankers to explore prospects for a "meaningfully sized" IPO. CNBC reported that the offering could be $1 to $1.5 billion.

Mason declined to comment on whether Groupon had recently received a $6 billion takeover bid from Google. Media have reported that the offer was rejected by Groupon.

"Unfortunately it's speculation on which I'm not able to comment," he said.

Google is now preparing to test its own special-offer and coupon service, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday.

Two-year-old Groupon recently completed a $950 million round of financing. Mason said the money would be used for international expansion and for new technology, for example to personalize deals for particular users.

The company offers its members discounts of 50 to 70 percent on local services, provided enough members sign up to any single offer. It takes a commission of 30 to 50 percent from the merchants who provide the services.

Groupon began as a collective-buying organization that grew out of The Point, a site that organized social campaigns which depended on reaching a critical mass of supporters, but Mason said it had outgrown its roots.

"The popularity of Groupon has almost rendered the group-buying element of it obsolete, because we're able to deliver so many customers that the merchants are very happy with even the smallest number that we can provide," he said.

Groupon grew to 50 million from 3 million users in 500 cities in 40 countries over the course of 2010. It does not disclose its revenues but says it has saved its users more than $1 billion in total so far.

"We're trying to bring offline transactions online," said Mason, claiming that 80 percent of consumers' disposable income was spent within 2 miles of the home. "Everybody loves a deal on a restaurant or skydiving or laser-hair removal."

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