Deliveroo employees to receive shares totalling 10 million pounds

LONDON, May 16 (Reuters) - Employees at British food courier Deliveroo will become shareholders in the company and receive a share of equity totalling nearly 10 million pounds ($13.5 billion), the firm said, although the programme will not extend to its riders.

Deliveroo riders, who are self-employed, have become a familiar sight on British streets since the company began operating in 2013. It now has more than 15,000 riders in the UK.

Founder and Chief Executive Will Shu said on Wednesday he wanted to reward with share options the nearly 2,000 permanent staff at the firm, which is valued at around $2 billion.

“Our phenomenal growth and success has been made possible thanks to the hard work, commitment and passion of the people who make this company what it is, and that deserves recognition which is why I want all employees to be owners in Deliveroo and to have a real stake in the company’s future as we expand and grow,” he said.

Deliveroo is embroiled in legal action with some of its British riders who are seeking more rights such as the minimum wage, as tech firms, who cite the flexibility of their operating model, battle unions and regulators around the world, some of whom say their working practices are exploitative.

British media have reported that Deliveroo, which has subsequently expanded abroad and now operates in 12 countries, is considering a stock market flotation.

A company source told Reuters: “Talk of an IPO is speculation. It’s not what we are focused on right now.” (Reporting by Costas Pitas, editing by Sarah Young)