Airbnb woos investors with return to profit ahead of IPO

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Airbnb revealed the scale of the financial hit to its business from the coronavirus pandemic on Monday, as it published the prospectus for its long-awaited stock market listing and began its attempt to persuade investors to back the company as activity rebounds.

The San Francisco-based accommodation booking company recorded losses of nearly $700m on revenues of $2.5bn in the first nine months this year, the regulatory filing revealed, widening from losses of $323m in the same period last year.

At its nadir in the second quarter, Airbnb suffered a $576m loss as the travel industry collapsed. However, the company swung to a profit of $219m in the third quarter.

It attributed the rebound to heavy cost-cutting, particularly in marketing. Third-quarter revenues were still down 18 per cent, year on year, at $1.3bn.

Airbnb reduced its spending on advertising by almost $400m in the first nine months of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019.

The filings set up an important test for the 12-year-old company — and for investor confidence in the global travel industry, whose fortunes have improved following positive developments in the race for a Covid-19 vaccine.

Airbnb is aiming to raise about $3bn in an initial public offering in December, which is expected to value it at about $25bn to $30bn, according to people briefed on the discussions.

Investors had previously purchased equity warrants giving Airbnb an implied valuation of $18bn as part of a rescue financing deal the company struck in April.

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