Skype to Go for IPO
After a history that includes its acquisition by and later repurchase from eBay, the pioneering Internet VoIP service provider Skype earlier this week announced plans for an initial public offering. According to the company's S-1 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the IPO could help it raise more than $100 million.
Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan and Morgan Stanley will underwrite the offering, company officials said. As of Monday, the company had not disclosed the expected price range for the publicly traded shares nor had it set a specific date for the IPO. However, according to its filing, it registered $100 million in American depository shares with the SEC.
Less than a year ago, eBay sold off its majority stake in Skype for $1.9 billion to a group of investors led by venture capital firm Silver Lake that also includes Index Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz and the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) Investment Board. eBay still holds a 35-percent stake in the Luxembourg-based company.
In March, Skype got a big boost when Nokia said it would support the service on its line of Symbian-based smartphones for both Wi-Fi and wireless networks and would appear on Nokia's Ovi mobile downloads store.
In its filing, Skype made it clear that it will need more deals with smartphone makers and service providers in order to drive sales and profits going forward.
"Our business strategy depends on our ability to continue to offer our products on a mobile platform," Skype said in the filing. "Mobile network operators may be reluctant to partner with us or allow our products to be used on their devices due to concerns about cannibalizing their business. We have already faced such reluctance by mobile network operators, particularly in European markets, in relation to VoIP and peer-to-peer applications generally."
Skype, which claims more than 120 million users, said it facilitated more than 95 billion calling minutes worldwide in the first half of this year.