Airbnb Offered A Novel Way To Go Public 

Airbnb Inc. has been offered a unique opportunity to go public. Brian Chesky, CEO of the San Francisco-based vacation rental online marketplace, told Reuters his company has been approached about a merger with a so-called blank-check acquisition company.

The arrangement is defined as a development-stage company that lacks a business plan or has one that is based on a merger or acquisition of another company.

“We’re looking at everything,” Chesky told the news service. “So I probably shouldn’t speculate too much on it.”

His comment came in response to a question about whether he considered using a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), another phrase for blank check companies. “We’ve been approached by some people that have presented us some opportunities,” Chesky told Reuters.

The news came the same day that hedge-fund billionaire Bill Ackman raised $4 billion in an initial public offering for a new blank-check company called Pershing Square Tontine Holdings. Ackman’s hedge funds also have the right to buy an additional $3 billion of shares, giving the blank-check firm up to $7 billion for acquisitions.

The financier has previously said he intends to use Tontine Holdings to buy a “mature unicorn” that hasn’t gone public and might prefer working with him to doing its own IPO. Although Ackman didn’t identify any companies by name, Airbnb would certainly fit the bill.

Last week, PYMNTS reported Airbnb has revived plans to launch an IPO this year as its bookings have rebounded after the COVID-19 disruption.

“When the market is ready, we will be ready,” Chesky wrote in an email to employees. “We were down, but we’re not out.”

The IPO decision came as Airbnb said it booked more than 1 million nights in a single day for the first time since the start of the pandemic.

Still, half of the bookings were for locations less than 300 miles from guests’ homes, and the nightly rate was on average below $100.

“Our business has not recovered, but we are seeing encouraging signs,” the company said in a blog post.

In an interview with Bloomberg Television last month, Chesky mentioned the possibility that Airbnb might go ahead with its launch to become a publicly-traded company.

But he also noted that he’s not ready to firmly commit to taking the company public this year, even after a sharp rise in bookings over the last few weeks as Americans with cabin fever began to travel after months of coronavirus restrictions.

“We’re not ruling it out this year, but we’re definitely not committing to a timeline right now,” Chesky said. “We’re still a little early in this crisis for me to feel clear enough about how this is going to play out.”