The global technology company Wise has announced it is considering applying for admission to the standard listing segment of the Official List of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the London Stock Exchange. The company also intends to publish a registration document in connection with admission.
Should their intentions be both applied and successful, Wise will become the first technology company to be directly listed on the London Stock Exchange. In contrast to a traditional Initial Public Offering, a direct listing is a fairer, cheaper, and more transparent way for a company such as Wise to broaden its ownership.
Amongst other perks, Wise is due to establish OwnWise, a customer shareholder programme which will reward customers joining as shareholders with the chance to receive bonus shares in the company, representing 5% of the value of the shares they buy and hold for at least 12 months (based on market value at the time of purchase); capping at £100. The programme is currently open for pre-applications from UK-eligible customers.
In addition, all existing investors, including the company’s team of current and previous employees who at present hold options and shares – recognised colloquially as ‘Wisers’ – will be offered time-limited enhanced voting shares to support the company’s transition to a listed company.
The direct listing is possible due to the company’s sustainable approach to growth. Wise has demonstrated its profitability since 2017, with a 54% revenue CAGR over the last 3 years reaching £421 million in revenue in FY2021. The company states that it has no current plans to raise primary capital.
“Wise is used to challenging convention, and this listing is no exception. We’re ten years into building a new way to move money around the world – faster, cheaper, easier and completely transparent. A direct listing allows us a cheaper and more transparent way to broaden Wise’s ownership, aligned with our mission,” comments Kristo Käärmann, CEO and co-founder of Wise.
“We’re fixing a huge, structural problem on a global scale, and one which requires enormous discipline to solve. Operating sustainably, with a profit margin, helps us track our journey to lower prices for customers as we scale and remove costs. By bringing transparency and fairness into how we price our products, we’ve found a common ground of creating massive value for our customers, and also for our shareholders.
“Bringing in the people we serve as owners of Wise is something I’ve long wanted to do. Recently, we welcomed our first customer-owners by gifting shares to a group of 1,800 active customers. Because of the long-term nature of our mission, we’ve always chosen shareholders with an understanding of, and passion for, the problem we’re solving. A direct listing, combined with a widely available dual-class share structure, allows us to bring customers and other like-minded investors into our shareholder base, whilst keeping the focus on our deeply ingrained mission as we grow at speed.”
Kristo continues, “97.5% of peoples international payments are still flowing through banks and other providers, where fees are nearly always hidden. The experience is slow, broken and it’s just as bad for businesses. There’s a lot of work ahead – this mission will take us years, probably decades. I welcome more people and institutions joining us as owners of Wise, to build a new, better way for money to move without borders.”