In a departure from comments made last year, Singapore-based property listing startup PropertyGuru will not be filing an initial public offering in 2016, CEO Steve Melhuish told e27.
“For us it makes more sense for us to say: ‘Let’s be private for a little bit longer, grow so we are not a small player who lacks liquidity and can be sustainable.’ When we raised the private investment, [we decided] we are going to use it for accelerated growth,” he said.
In May 2015, Melhuish said he wanted to take PropertyGuru to go IPO within the next 12 to 18 months.
However, since those statements, a lot has changed for the company.
Most notably, it landed a S$175 million (US$122 million) funding round from TPG, Emtek Group and Square Peg Capital — Asia’s sixth-largest funding round of 2015.
Also, the company acquired Indonesian property portal RumahDijual.com, Singaporean marketing company ePropertyTrack and appointed former LinkedIn APAC Managing Director Hari Krishnan as President. Today, the company announced the acquisition of real estate media company Ensign Media.
“We are not going to IPO immediately after raising a chunk of money. To be honest, we are happy being a private company and we have fantastic shareholders who have been incredibly supportive… The shareholders are excited about growing and it has been a pleasure as compared to maybe the daily scrutiny on the public market,” Melhuish said.
There is no guarantee that PropertyGuru would have chosen the SGX as its listing platform. When the idea of an IPO had legs, Melhuish was mulling between Singapore and Australia.
But listing in Australia was attractive for Melhuish, who cited companies like Carsales.com and REA Group (which grew from realestate.com.au) as examples of tech businesses that have benefited from an ASX listing. REA Group is quite similar to PropertyGuru and raked in AU$146 million (US$103 million) in revenue for Q3 2015.
“At that time, I think it was looking at the comparables. [In Singapore,] we saw more traditional brick-and-mortar trading. Traditional real estate companies listed in Singapore versus an exchange in Australia which had more tech companies. So it was more attractive from a risk point of view,” Melhuish explained.
Listing in Australia is not uncommon for Singaporean startups. In August, Singaporean gaming studio iCandy spurned the SGX for Australia and social media firm Netccentric chose the ASX in July.
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With PropertyGuru delaying any talks of IPO, the SGX will need to look elsewhere to boost an IPO market that, in September, Singapore Business Review said was in “full retreat”.
Only 13 companies filed for an IPO in 2015, a 57 per cent decrease from 2014. Additionally, only one company — BHG Retail Real Estate — listed on the main board while the other 12 entered via the junior board Catalist, according to Today Online.
Moving forward in 2016, it is certainly worth keeping an eye on whether or not a Singaporean tech startup decides to go IPO on the SGX.