Wotif.com prices at A$2.00 as Aussie market slides 2%

The online accommodation website beats market bears by pricing at the top of the institutional bookbuild range.
In a deal reminiscent of dotcom days, the discount accommodation website wotif.com priced its IPO at A$2.00 each, raising A$172 million for the company and its founding directors.

On Wednesday, joint lead managers Macquarie Bank and ABN AMRO Morgans were getting ready to scale back orders after a two-day institutional bookbuild process prior to a listing scheduled for 8 June.

Market sources confirmed that the shares priced at the top of the bookbuild range of A$1.75 and A$2.00 despite a drop in the S&P/ASX200 on Wednesday of 103.7 points or 2%.

The deal, which sees 42% of the company or just under 86 million shares offered to public investors, gives wotif.com a market capitalisation of about A$406 million.

At a multiple of more than 25 times earnings it is one of the highest priced IPOs of the year on the ASX. But analysts remark that this multiple is still lower than the average multiple of peers such as Seek and realestate.com.au.

Wotif.com claims a 36% share of the online accommodation market in Australia. In 2005, the company generated revenues of A$32.1 million and net profit of A$12 million. The directors are forecasting revenues of A$45.3 million and net profits of A$15.7 million in 2006 and revenues of A$55.8 million and net profits of A$19.1 million in 2007.

Wotif.com was founded in Brisbane in 2000 by Graeme Wood, Andrew Brice and Kevin Fitzpatrick. It now operates in 35 markets and employs 135 people. CEO Graeme Wood will retain a 25.1% shareholding in the company post-IPO.

The company offers a do-it-yourself online booking service for travellers seeking accommodation. Hotels, motels and other boutique establishments list their available rooms on the website for free and then pay wotif.com a 10% commission on the cost of the room nights.
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