Russian eTailer Ozon Seeks US IPO

Russian eTailer Ozon Seeks US IPO

Russia-based eCommerce company Ozon, often compared to Amazon, is preparing to file for an initial public offering (IPO) in the U.S., according to The Wall Street Journal (WSJ).

That's slated to happen either later this year or early in 2021, according to sources familiar with the matter quoted by WSJ.

The company, which could be valued between $3 billion and $5 billion, was boosted by the pandemic's shift to much digital shopping. Sales shot up almost 200 percent in the second quarter as Russians used it to buy everyday items like food, WSJ reported.

But Russian eCommerce was growing even before the pandemic. It has over 100 million users, making it Europe's largest internet market. Last year, that market grew 23 percent and is now valued at $31 billion, which put it on par with India's and slightly larger than Canada's, according to research by Russian agency Data Insight, WSJ reported.

This will be the first Russian IPO in the U.S. since the online job portal Headhunter listed shares in the country in May 2019, according to WSJ.

Ozon shares similarities with Amazon. Like the American eCommerce titan, Ozon originally started out in the late 1990s as an online bookstore. Amazon has expressed interest in buying Ozon, PYMNTS reported in June. It was working with SoftBank and in talks with Sistema, one of Russia's largest publicly-traded companies that has part ownership in Ozon, about the possibility.

Vladimir Evtushenkov, Sistema’s majority owner and chairman, said the interest around Ozon was "very high" among foreign investors and that Ozon was the only company Amazon had been looking at in terms of participation.

Ozon was the recipient of a $50 million investment from San Francisco-based Princeville Capital in March. The company said it planned to spend over $300 million on logistics over the next three years, and the loan would go toward that goal as well as boosting its technology.



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