* Zalando targets investors seeking e-commerce exposure
* Rocket to attract tech, emerging market funds -source
* Flurry of e-commerce listings to be crowned by Alibaba
* Zalando seeks to raise 900 mln euros, Rocket 800 mln
(Adds analyst comment, detail)
By Alexander Hübner
FRANKFURT, Aug 22 German venture capital firm
Rocket Internet and Zalando, Europe's biggest specialist online
fashion retailer, are both on the brink of announcing plans to
list on the Frankfurt stock exchange, several sources with
knowledge of the matter said.
Both companies want to announce plans for initial public
offerings (IPO) in the first half of September, meaning that the
two biggest Internet listings in Germany for more than a decade
could take place concurrently, the banking sources told Reuters.
"At the moment, the IPO market is still very receptive, but
political uncertainties remain," said a banker involved in one
of the deals, referring to the conflicts in Ukraine and Iraq.
"So everyone is striving to tap the market as soon as possible."
Zalando, which is holding an investor presentation on its
business next Thursday, and Rocket Internet are likely to list
stakes of around 15 percent each by selling new shares, separate
sources have previously said.
Larger offers would risk diluting existing shareholders too
much, something they want to avoid, bankers said. One banker
estimated Zalando was seeking to raise around 900 million euros
($1.2 billion) and Rocket Internet about 800 million euros.
The companies declined to comment.
"If they really run in parallel, that would be very
unfortunate," said a banker involved in the plans, voicing
concern that the firms may have to compete for investment.
However, another source with knowledge of the plans said he
expected the two companies to attract different kinds of
investors, with Rocket Internet appealing more to technology or
emerging market funds and Zalando to those looking for exposure
to booming e-commerce in Europe.
Rocket Internet plans to use the cash raised in its listing
to allow it to hold on to big stakes in the companies it helps
create, one banker said.
Buoyant capital markets have encouraged a flurry of
e-commerce flotations this year, with Chinese juggernaut Alibaba
IPO-ALIB.N set to list soon, even though a recent sell-off in
high-flying tech stocks has dampened investor appetite.
In the run-up to its listing, Alibaba has been expected to
raise more than $15 billion, which would make it one of the
biggest tech IPOs in history and close to Facebook's $16
billion initial offering in 2012.
"Investors are basically receptive to these stocks,"
Commerzbank analyst Heike Pauls said of Zalando and Rocket.
Zalando, whose rivals include Britain's ASOS,
started out selling shoes in Germany in 2008 and has expanded to
1,500 different shoe and fashion brands in 15 European markets.
The firm, which is seeking to expand further in Europe,
posted sales of 520 to 560 million euros in the second quarter,
when it achieved its first-ever profit.
Rocket Internet is bidding to create the largest Internet
empire outside the United States and China, seeking to replicate
the success of Amazon and Alibaba in markets that the
U.S. and Chinese e-commerce groups have yet to dominate, such as
Africa, Latin America, Russia and other parts of Asia.
Founded in 2007, Rocket is already active in more than 100
countries, making revenue of $1 billion in 2013 via online
fashion stores including Dafiti in Latin America and Lamoda in
Russia, as well as Jumia for general merchandise in Africa.
Besides e-commerce, it has created online marketplaces for
everything from taxis and meal deliveries to domestic cleaners.
However, unlike Zalando, Rocket Internet has yet to give
potential investors an insight into its finances, analysts said.
"It's very important that they put forward convincing numbers in
a timely way," said Commerzbank's Pauls.
Germany's best-known venture capitalists, the Samwer
brothers - Oliver, Alexander and Marc - are major shareholders
in both Zalando and Rocket Internet through their Global
Founders Fund. However, Rocket Internet sold its direct stake in
Zalando last year.
The two Berlin-based companies also have other investors in
common, including Swedish investment firm Kinnevik,
JP Morgan Asset Management and Holtzbrinck Ventures.
Holtzbrinck on Friday announced it was exchanging its
individual Rocket company investments for a 2.5 percent stake in
Rocket Internet itself - which values the company at around 4.4
(1 US dollar = 0.7530 euro)
(Additional reporting by Emma Thomasson and Eric Auchard;
Writing by Jonathan Gould; Editing by Pravin Char)