Lyft's IPO prices at $72 per share, leading stampede of tech unicorns

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Lyft valued at $34.3b in first ride-hailing IPO

Shares of the No. 2 USA ride-hailing company will start trading on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the ticker LYFT after an initial public offering that's been viewed as a bellwether for Silicon Valley companies.

Uber is planning to launch its IPO in April, sources have said.

Uber, which is also loss-making, would be valued at about $128 billion at its IPO if awarded the same multiple as Lyft.

Lyft is trying to catch up to Uber, which is expected to go public later this spring.

The institutional investors that bought into the IPO clearly think so, enabling Lyft to demand a price that was above its initial goal of $62 to $68 per share.

Lyft is raising some $2.5 billion in its Wall Street offering, which is seen as a turning point for the ride-hailing business and the so-called "sharing economy".

"The ridesharing industry has become one of the most transformational growth sectors of the United States consumer market over the past five years, with Lyft establishing itself as a clear #2 player behind the worldwide leader Uber", said analysts at Wedbush Securities on Thursday, who initiated coverage of Lyft with a price target of $80 within a year. That was at the top of the marketed range, which was increased to US$70 to US$72 on Wednesday.

The success of the IPO came despite Lyft's steep losses, criticism of its dual-class share structure and some concerns over its strategy for autonomous driving, for fear of missing out on the company's strong revenue growth.

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Despite struggling to turn a profit over the years, ride-hailing service and Uber competitor Lyft decided recently to take itself public. Uber is expected to make an even bigger splash when it completes its IPO later this year.

Lyft's IPO was oversubscribed just two days into its investor roadshow, Reuters reported last week.

"Nobody knew they (Lyft) would catch up to this level", said Navin Chaddha, a venture capitalist with Silicon Valley firm Mayfield, which invested in Lyft in 2011.

Lyft's co-founders Logan Green and John Zimmer have structured the shares so that together they will hold 49 percent of the voting power, enough to substantially influence major decisions. The filing also made public Lyft's formerly undisclosed operating results.

When adding restricted stock options, Lyft's valuation would top $24.3 billion.

The stock is set to start trading Friday on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the ticker LYFT. The company says its service is active in more than 300 markets in the US and Canada.

During that time, its losses also grew, from US$688 million in 2017 to US$911 million previous year.

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