Cab-hailing platform & unicorn Ola plans for an IPO in less than two years after meeting the profitability goals required for going public in India. The Indian stock exchange requires companies to be profitable for a minimum of three years to list. Ola has, however, not filed its financials for FY’19 with the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA).
Going public will help many investors backing up the cab platform, including SoftBank, to exit or partially sell their stakes and return funds to their stakeholders. The firm’s newest investor, ARK Impact Asset Management, lately set up a pre-IPO trust fund, according to regulatory filings. The impact asset management fund has invested approximately Rs 35.8 crore in ANI Technologies for its ongoing Series J round at nearly a $7 billion valuation.
According to a valuation report submitted to Ola’s shareholders in February 2017, Ola might report a profit worth Rs 1,170 crore in FY’19, with a free cash flow worth Rs 698 crore. It reported a 44% increment in revenue to Rs 1,860 crore in FY’18 from Rs 1,286 crore in the previous year. Losses for FY’18 narrowed down from Rs 4,816 to Rs 2,676 in the last year.
Arduous listing policy
Ola’s domestic listing plans come at a time when rival Uber’s IPO and stock performance on the NYSE (New York Stock Exchange) has been heated. Uber has a market cap of nearly $49 billion and witnessed a private valuation of around $76 billion before its public offering in May.
The firm has been facing multiple regulatory obstacles before it could even file for a prospectus. Lately, Ola has two available tracks to its proposed public listing, via the SEBI, regulated IGP (Innovator’s Growth Platform) meant for SMEs and startups, or direct listing on NSE or BSE.
The capital market regulator’s default rules for a direct listing state that promotors, including investors, must include at least 20% of the total paid-up capital. However, Ola’s promoters contribute less than 20% of the paid-up capital.
Ola, founded by Bhavish Aggarwal and Ankit Bhati in January 2011, offers services across 50 cities in India, Australia, UK, and New Zealand. The firm claims to have completed over 1.5 million drivers. The firm has also raised above $3.8 billion from investors such as SoftBank, Ratan Tata, Hyundai Motor Company, Sachin Bansal, Kia Motors, and others. A public listing, however, is still a long shot with several obstacles in the way.