Estonia-based money transfer company Wise, formerly known as TransferWise, has announced plans to go public on the London Stock Exchange via a direct listing.
Kristo Käärmann, Estonian co-founder and CEO of the fintech company, said in a statement that a direct listing allows the company “a cheaper and more transparent way” to expand ownership of Wise than a traditional stock market launch. .
Direct listing means the company will not raise new capital or involve new investors, but shares held by existing Wise shareholders will become tradable on the London Stock Exchange.
TransferWise was launched as a peer-to-peer money transfer startup in London in early 2011 by Estonians Taavet Hinrikus, Skype‘s first employee, and Kristo Käärmann. The company started out by making transfers between the British Pound and the Euro, expanding over the years to other currencies. In 2014, British businessman Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, invested $ 25 million in TransferWise.
Valuation of $ 5 billion in ten years
In 2019, TransferWise was Europe’s most valued fintech startup, valued at $ 3.5 billion. By July 2020, its value had risen to $ 5 billion, making the founders – Käärmann and Hinrikus – the richest Estonians. In 2020 the company made a profit of £ 30.9million ($ 43million / € 36million) on revenues of £ 421million ($ 587million / € 491million) .
In early 2021, TransferWise shortened its name to simply Wise. The company is headquartered in London but maintains a large office also in Estonia.
The London Stock Exchange is one of the oldest exchanges in the world. In 2020, it is the eighth largest stock exchange in the world. Despite Brexit, London has retained its status as a global financial center – in the Global Financial Centers Index, the city is second, just behind New York.
Cover: The founders of Wise, Kristo Käärmann and Taavet Hinrikus. Photo of sage.