Why Rocket Internet has come down to earth

“I AM NOT Scrooge McDuck,” said Oliver Samwer in 2017 when he denied the request of shareholders of Rocket Internet, the startup incubator he co-founded with his two brothers, to use the company’s cash to boost its ailing share price through share buy-backs. Now the way he has handled a planned delisting of Rocket from stock exchanges in Frankfurt and Luxembourg reminds those same shareholders of Walt Disney’s money-hoarding cartoon character. Those who put money into Rocket’s initial public offering (IPO) in 2014 may end up with a hefty loss.

“It is totally legal and totally immoral,” says Michael Kunert of SDK, an association which defends investors’ rights, about the planned delisting of Rocket, expected to be rubber-stamped at the firm’s extraordinary general meeting on September 24th, after The Economist went to press. Rather than using external capital to buy investors out at a premium, the usual way to take a firm private, Mr Samwer has used company cash to buy back €223m ($260m) of its own shares. This pushed his clan’s stake to over 50%. He plans to use another €1bn of Rocket’s cash to buy out minority shareholders at €18.57 a share, the volume-weighted average price in the past six months but down from the IPO price of €42.50.

Mr Kunert reports that Rocket’s minority shareholders...



via Business Feeds

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