NZ travel software firm Serko plans NZ$17 mln share issue

WELLINGTON Sun May 25, 2014 8:32pm EDT

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WELLINGTON May 26 (Reuters) - New Zealand corporate travel booking firm Serko said on Monday it plans to raise NZ$17 million ($14.5 million) in a stock exchange listing to help it expand in the Asia-Pacific region.

The company, whose cloud-based services enable firms to make and modify travel bookings en masse, said it would offer NZ$17 million in new shares at NZ$1.10 per share, while existing sharehoders would also sell up to NZ$5 million in shares.

The issue, which would take Serko's market capitalisation to around NZ$67 million, will enable the company to increase hiring as it expands in China, India, Singapore, United Arab Emirates and other countries.

"Our travel agencies and our travel management company resellers want us to expand throughout Asia. To do that well we need to raise capital to bring sales forces into those areas," Serko CEO Darrin Grafton told reporters.

The company said it was targeting New Zealand and Australian institutional and retail investors for the offer, which will open on June 4 and close on June 19. The company plans to list on the New Zealand Stock Exchange main board on June 24.

Founded in 2007, Serko earns 90 percent of its revenue in Australia, where it has a 50-60 percent market share of the corporate travel booking market. It plans to post a loss of NZ$6.5 million in 2014/15 on revenues of NZ$11 million.

It employs roughly 100 employees mainly in New Zealand and Australia, and has offices in China and India.

The travel booking and expense management software company is following in the footsteps of accounting software developer Xero, the darling of New Zealand's burgeoning tech industry, whose share price double has doubled in the past year following its 2007 listing. ($1 = 1.1691 New Zealand Dollars) (Reporting by Naomi Tajitsu; Editing by Richard Pullin)

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