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By Esha Vaish
STOCKHOLM, March 1 (Reuters) - Online payments services firm Klarna has launched a share issue to raise 1 billion Swedish crowns ($108 million) from existing investors and said it plans a larger external fundraising round later this year.
Expectations that Klarna will go public have grown since the company doubled down on growth last year after securing a Swedish banking license and announcing plans to venture into several new countries in 2019.
Klarna’s two largest shareholders Sequoia and Bestseller, as well as other investors, have agreed to participate in the current funding round, which will see the Swedish company sell shares for 1,640 Swedish crowns a piece.
The group was valued at more than $2 billion last year when fashion chain H&M bought a stake.
“This is a first internal round at a lower rate and then we (will) go out to the external market later this year,” a spokeswoman for Klarna said.
She declined to say whether the fundraising later this year would be a stock market listing or confirm a Breakit report that said the current round valued Klarna at 32 billion crowns.
The current round, which will close on March 10, is expected to enable Klarna to tap “growth opportunities” including entry into new markets and its banking proposition.
Klarna, founded in 2005 and backed by investors such as Sequoia Capital, Atomico, Visa and Permira, has 2,000 employees and is one of Europe’s so-called tech unicorns - a start-up with a valuation of more than $1 billion. ($1 = 9.2374 Swedish crowns) (Reporting by Esha Vaish in Stockholm; editing by Johannes Hellstrom and Alexander Smith)