Wise’s London listing plans could be unveiled as soon as this week

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Fintech and payments start-up Wise is planning to pull the trigger on a direct listing on the London Stock Exchange as soon as this week, becoming the latest tech firm to cash in on the ongoing boom in flotations on the UK’s public markets.

According to a Sky News report, the firm could launch plans for the direct listing this week, although regulatory approvals may mean the announcement could be pushed back until July.

The company is expected to fetch a valuation of up to £9bn, according to insiders, although the final figure may be at the cautious end of any predicted range given the performance of recent floats such as Deliveroo PLC (LON:ROO), which achieved sky-high valuations only to see its shares slump on its market debut.

Despite this, the report said a valuation of at least £5bn is expected, making Wise the latest tech “unicorn” (a company worth over £1bn) to seek a public listing on the market in London.

However, unlike an initial public offering (IPO), the company’s direct listing will mean no new shares are created and the existing stock will be directly offered to public investors with no intermediary to drum up interest. The decision also means the shares will simply receive a reference price, an estimated value from the stock exchange, rather than a fixed IPO price.

Wise is also reportedly considering deploying a dual-class structure for its shares that will enable its founders and early backers to retain voting control, a move that may elicit controversy from those looking to get in on the action following its listing.

Founded in 2011 by Estonian businessmen Kristo Käärmann and Taavet Hinrikus, Wise has expanded into one of the UK’s most valuable start-ups, offering international transfers and payments in 56 currencies to over 10mln customers.

Wise’s decision will also bring cheers from the UK government, which has been pushing to make listing in London more attractive to tech companies and prevent British unicorns from being snapped up by US-based special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs).

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