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Rocket Internet Owners Said to Plan Keeping Stake in 2014 IPO

Rocket Internet CEO Oliver Samwer
Oliver Samwer, chief executive officer of Rocket Internet GmbH. Photographer: Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

Rocket Internet GmbH’s shareholders, including co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Oliver Samwer, plan to keep their shares in a planned initial public offering, according to people familiar with the matter.

Investment AB Kinnevik and billionaire Len Blavatnik’s investment vehicle Access Industries Holdings Inc., the Berlin-based startup incubator’s other main investors, will also likely retain their holdings while being diluted from the sale of new shares, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private information.

The company, which may be valued at 3 billion euros ($4.1 billion) to 5 billion euros in a Frankfurt listing later this year, is trying to convince investors that it can sustain growth and be profitable over the longer run. Rocket replicates existing e-commerce business concepts, mainly from Silicon Valley, in markets outside the U.S. and China -- from Brazil to Nigeria to Myanmar.

In meetings with investors ahead of the IPO, Rocket has been benchmarking its business model against that of Jack Ma’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., the people said. The German firm is raising funds from a share sale as it pushes growth in regions including southeast Asia and Latin America.

Representatives for Rocket Internet, Kinnevik and Access Industries declined to comment on the IPO.

Berlin Boom

Samwer, one of the three brothers who founded Rocket Internet in 2007, holds 66 percent of Rocket’s shares, while Kinnevik holds about 25 percent. Blavatnik last year invested more than $400 million in the company. Rocket has hired Berenberg Bank, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Morgan Stanley to manage the potential listing, people have said.

Rocket is set to join food-delivery startup Just Eat Plc and King Digital Entertainment Plc, the creator of Candy Crush games, which are among Internet companies that have gone public this year. Zalando, an online clothing retailer that was set up by Rocket Internet in 2008, also plans an IPO in coming months, people have said.

The transactions are expected to boost investment activity in Germany and in particular in Berlin, which hasn’t seen a sizable technology IPO since Hypoport AG in 2007, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Since starting their first so-called dot-clone in 1999, a German version of EBay Inc., the Samwer brothers have duplicated sites such as those of Airbnb Inc., EHarmony Inc. and Pinterest Inc.

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