Billionaire activist hedge manager Bill Ackman has offered to take Airbnb public through his $4 billion blank-check company, but the company’s CEO Brian Chesky is reportedly holding out for a more traditional IPO process.
Chesky hasn’t completely ruled out a merger with Ackman’s Pershing Square Tontine Holdings, but no further discussions are underway, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday.
Sources confirm to The Post that Ackman has been very interested in taking Airbnb public via his Tontine special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC. The 12-year-old home rental startup was valued at $26 billion in April when it raised $1 billion in fresh capital to offset the impact of COVID-19 on its business.
Chesky is reportedly looking for a public market valuation near $30 billion and has hired Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley to help Airbnb get there.
Ackman’s blank-check has roughly $7 billion to invest and experts say that SPACs can be used to pursue companies three times their size. That would put Ackman close to Airbnb’s most recent private-sector price tag, but short of Chesky’s target valuation of $30 billion.
While Airbnb is not Ackman’s only target, sources it was high on his list and that he relished the idea of working with Chesky on Airbnb’s bottom line as the company recovers from the pandemic.
“Airbnb’s post-pandemic growth story is perfect for a market that has an insatiable appetite for growth stories,” mused Wedbush analyst Dan Ives. “But even in this environment, investors are going to be laser-focused on things like spending, profitability, and governance.”
Additional reporting by Josh Kosman