Fashion start-up Zalando doesn't see investors cashing out at IPO

Tue Jul 1, 2014 6:01am EDT

* Zalando investors convinced of strategy

* Zalando considering IPO in October - sources

* Ex-Telekom boss Kai-Uwe Ricke could take Zalando stake

BERLIN, July 1 (Reuters) - Europe's largest online fashion retailer Zalando - founded in 2008 with help from venture capitalists - does not expect investors to use any initial public offering (IPO) to cash out of the company, an executive told a German newspaper on Tuesday.

The Berlin-based start-up is considering an IPO in October, people familiar with the transaction told Reuters on Monday, and Rocket Internet, the venture capital group that used to be a major investor in it, is also considering its own IPO.

This prompted speculation in a recent article in German business monthly Manager Magazine that Rocket Internet founders, brothers Oliver, Marc and Alexander Samwer, might look to cash out at least some of their investment, along with Kinnevik of Sweden.

But Zalando board member Ruben Ritter told the Boersen-Zeitung in an interview: "Management and investors are completely convinced of our strategy and our business model which we want to continue to build together."

"It bothers me that an IPO is always equated with investors cashing in and exiting. That doesn't have to be the case. An IPO can also serve to raise capital for the business to bring it to a new level," he added.

Sources familiar with the transaction told Reuters that Zalando would probably only list a 10-15 percent stake, raising less than 1 billion euros ($1.36 billion), at least in part because investors did not want to divest their stakes.

Last week sources told Reuters that Rocket Internet will also aim to raise new capital to help it grow rather than see current owners cash out if it decides to proceed with a listing.

Kinnevik has a 36 percent stake in Zalando, followed by the European Founders Fund of the Samwer brothers on 17 percent and Danish fashion magnate Anders Holch Povlsen on some 10 percent.

Citing unnamed financial sources, the Boersen-Zeitung said Kai-Uwe Ricke, the former chief executive of Deutsche Telekom who joined the Zalando supervisory board in May, could also take a stake soon.

A Zalando spokesman declined to comment.

Ritter said that loss-making Zalando had 350 million euros in liquidity at the end of 2013 so was not dependent on outside financing, but was open to new investors, particularly if they brought expertise in areas like e-commerce or fashion.

The Berlin-based retailer, whose rivals include Britain's ASOS Plc, started selling shoes in Germany in 2008 and has expanded to 1,500 different brands in 15 countries.

($1 = 0.7331 Euros) (Reporting by Emma Thomasson, additional reporting by Mia Shanley in Stockholm; Editing by Sophie Walker)