Fintech company Wise Plc cimbed 10% in its debut following a direct listing on the London Stock Exchange, in the largest such deal ever, bolstering Brexit Britain’s capital-market hopes.

The money-transfer company born as TransferWise closed at 880 pence, giving it a market value of 8.75 billion pounds ($12 billion). That’s more than double the $5 billion valuation in a July 2020 fundraising. The stock had opened at 800 pence.

“Wise’s successful direct listing is a great outcome for the London market,” said Tom Johnson, Barclays Plc’s head of equity capital markets for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. “We need to see innovation of this kind to put London on the front foot.”

Wise eschewed a traditional initial public offering, opting not to raise fresh funds. Instead, shareholders offloaded a stake of at least 2.4% directly on the open market.

“The successful direct listing of Wise is clearly a boost to London’s ambitions as a global hub for tech companies,” said Liberum Capital strategist Joachim Klement. “Wise is a highly profitable and fast-growing challenger to traditional banks, that is what counts for investors,” he said.

Wise’s first-day pop brought some relief to London, which was plagued by high-profile disappointing debuts for food-delivery startup Deliveroo Plc and semiconductor technology firm Alphawave IP Group Plc. Wise’s listing also rode the tailwind of a rally in tech stocks.

Unlike the traditional initial public offerings for Deliveroo and Alphawave, where banks set a price based on investor feedback during roadshows, Wise’s valuation was determined by demand during an hours-long opening auction.

While Deliveroo was felled by its lofty valuation, investors also balked at the company’s unequal voting rights. More common in the U.S. and used by the likes of Google parent Alphabet Inc. and Facebook Inc., dual-class shares are controversial in the U.K. They are seen as putting new shareholders at a disadvantage, with a select group of backers retaining tight control over the business even after going public.

Wise’s sale will lead to “greater acceptance of enhanced voting rights among more and more investors, particularly growth investors,” said Gavin Launder, a fund manager at Legal & General Investment Management.

Still, Wise’s listing price is “richer” than expected, especially in comparison to its profitability, and indicates a shift in European stocks toward “more U.S. type valuations,” said Colin McLean, chief investment officer at SVM Asset Management.

The company’s revenue grew nearly 40% to 421 million pounds in its latest financial year. Profit before tax for the year more than doubled to 41 million pounds, it said.

Structure
Wise’s listing follows the British government’s plans to allow dual-class share ownership on the top tier of the LSE, where they are currently prohibited. The proposed change is part of a wider effort to make it easier for companies to go public in London.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak last week promised to make London “the world’s most advanced and exciting financial services hub.”

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