Rocket Internet CEO ready to seize tech rout opportunities

BERLIN (Reuters) - The chief executive of Rocket Internet is poised to pounce if the recent fall in tech stocks continues, putting to work the German ecommerce investor’s 2 billion euros ($2.28 billion) of available cash.

FILE PHOTO: Rocket Internet CEO Oliver Samwer attends an interview with Reuters in Berlin, Germany, January 10, 2018. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

Oliver Samwer, whose investments in tech companies have made him one of Germany’s richest men, said Rocket Internet’s cash pile puts it in a good position, especially if the tech market falls by as much as half.

“It gives us a unique position to be a beneficiary of valuation changes in the market,” he said. “I keep 2 billion euros because I think there will be good opportunities somewhere down the road.”

Tech stocks, which have been a Wall Street favorite, have fallen in recent weeks after disappointing quarterly reports from Inc and Alphabet Inc prompted fears that a decade-old bull market may be ending.

The European Stoxx technology index has fallen 17.3 percent from its 2018 high set in mid-June.

Samwer told an investor event that he expects to deploy 100 million to 150 million euros of capital in 2019. While he expects to invest in more companies in the future, he would take a smaller stake in each compared with the past.

Rocket Internet had a shaky start after listing in 2014 as investors worried over big losses at its start-ups, but it has since successfully listed a raft of firms including Delivery Hero, HelloFresh and Home24.

Some investors have suggested it might make sense to take Rocket private again but Samwer said a public listing was still an advantage, even though it might be difficult for a short-term investor to understand the company.

“The net benefits are positive,” he told journalists. “It gives you diversification of capital resources. It is also very good with regards to governance, disclosure, also with the recruiting of key people.”

The company’s shares were down 0.7 percent at 1053 GMT.

Samwer said Rocket had decided against giving away too much information on the new start-ups in which it was currently investing before they reached a critical size, after its previous experience with new firms that sometimes struggled.

He declined to comment on speculation that listings are being planned for Global Fashion Group, the emerging market online fashion retailer, and Jumia, its African ecommerce group.

Reporting by Emma Thomasson; Additional reporting by Thyagaraju Adinarayan; Editing by Michelle Martin and Kirsten Donovan