Criteo Said to Name JPMorgan for U.S. IPO of French Web Firm

Criteo SA, a French web advertising company, has picked JPMorgan Chase & Co. to help it go public in the U.S. this year, said people with knowledge of the plans.

The startup, founded in Paris in 2005, may seek a valuation of as much as $2 billion, said one person, who asked not to be identified because the details aren’t public. Criteo has spoken to multiple banks about the transaction and may name more managers in the coming weeks, according to another person.

Representatives for JPMorgan in London and Criteo in Paris declined to comment on the sale.

Criteo, which raised 30 million euros ($39 million) in September and is backed by Index Ventures among other investors, operates in more than 30 countries and partners with about 3,000 advertisers, according to its website. With EBay Inc. and Expedia Inc. among its clients, Criteo has been profitable since 2009 and gets most of its revenue from the U.S. market.

Sales are growing “very fast” in the U.S., Asia and Latin America, Gregory Gazagne, who heads Criteo’s European business, said in a press conference last week. “Europe is also growing. We had expected to see a slowdown, but we haven’t.”

Tailored Ads

The Internet advertising world is dominated by the likes of Google Inc. and Facebook Inc., which have built their strategies around search queries or displays such as banners.

Google’s share of the $19.8 billion search-advertising market in the U.S. will increase to 74 percent this year, according to a forecast by EMarketer Inc. The display-ad market will represent $17.7 billion in sales in the U.S. this year, also according to EMarketer.

Criteo’s 320 researchers, most of which work out of a lab in Paris, developed technology for so-called “re-targeted” display advertising, designed to spot hesitant shoppers online and flash them tailored ad banners to tempt them back into a purchase.

Internet and technology companies raised $19 billion in IPOs in North America last year, including Facebook’s $16 billion share sale in May, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Share prices of the companies that listed last year declined by an average of about 15 percent, the data show.

Companies in the U.S. raised $11.3 billion in IPOs this year, 29 percent more than they sold in the same period in 2012, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is ranked first in managing the sales in 2013.

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