New Zealand-based travel and expense management provider Serko plans to raise NZ$85 million—about US$58.4 million—to grow its business, particularly in the unmanaged travel segment, and “pursue opportunities for inorganic global expansion,” the company said Wednesday in its half-year financial results announcement.
The capital will come from issuing NZ$75 million in ordinary shares to new investors as well as a NZ$10 million retail offer to existing shareholders letting them subscribe to up to NZ$50,000 in new shares. Serko has halted trading on the Australian and New Zealand stock exchanges and plans to complete its capital raise before the end of the year.
About 40 percent of the new capital is earmarked for developing Serko’s “global marketplace strategy,” especially driving growth in North America. Serko reported an average monthly growth of more than 10 percent in transaction volumes from May through September in North America and reports an increase in inquiries for its Zeno tool in the region, including “multiple requests to participate in [requests for proposals] by Fortune 500 companies.”
Serko plans to invest to grow its Booking.com business, targeting unmanaged business travel, with about 35 percent of the raised capital. Serko has moved more than 300,000 Booking.com for Business customers onto the Zeno platform and reported more than 30,000 new sign-ups for the platform since its launch. It also is “progressively” adding flight and rail content to the platform.
About a quarter of the raised capital will go toward “potential acquisition opportunities, if and when they arise,” according to Serko.
“We are poised for growth out of this pandemic, and the investment to date has proven our ability to grow from a regional leader to a truly global player,” Serko chief executive and co-founder Darrin Grafton said in a statement. “Our focus is now on scaling the business to activate the opportunities we have ahead of us.”
For the first half of its fiscal year, ending Sept. 30, Serko reported NZ$9.2 million in total operating revenue, an 81 percent increase compared with the first half of the previous fiscal year. Total bookings on Serko’s platforms were up 157 percent to 1.3 million over that period, as the strict lockdowns in Australia and New Zealand became more limited and the Booking.com for Business transactions came online. The average revenue per booking for managed business travel declined to $7.38 from $8.76 compared with the previous fiscal year, which Serko said was a result of increased travel that changed its revenue mix.
Within the Australasia region, the number of active corporate customers on the platform ranged from a high of 5,249 in May to a low of 3,443 in September. Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, Serko had more than 6,800 active corporate customers on the platform.
For the full fiscal year, Serko expects revenue to range between NZ$21 million and NZ$25 million, which “assumes a general reduction of domestic travel restrictions within Australia and New Zealand and no significant lockdowns in Europe or North America.” Serko reported a net loss of NZ$15.2 million for the first half of the fiscal year, a broader loss than the NZ$10.1 million from the first half of the previous fiscal year due to a “planned increase in expenditure to capitalize on the significant opportunities for Serko’s expansion into international markets,” according to Serko.
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