“Podcasting, and Acast, is here to stay,” is the message that company cofounder Johan Billgren says its move to go public is sending. Swedish-based Acast went public on Nasdaq’s First North Premier Growth Market on Thursday. The company will sell up to 55 million shares for which it expects to raise as much as $244 million from the offering before expenses, a sale that puts the value of Acast at $775 million.
Seven in ten of the shares being sold will come from two of Acast’s current investors – Moor and Bonnier Ventures. And several of its senior executives and board members will also liquidate some of the holdings in the company. But Acast noted those management sales are geared toward covering the costs of exercising other warrants and stock options that have vested. It means the executives could wind up owning more shares of Acast after the sale than before. Acast also said it would issue 34 million new shares. And to address what it expected to be strong demand, it also took steps to issue 7.2 million additional shares. The IPO will put 30% of the company into the hands of stockholders.
“The listing of Acast is a milestone not only for us as a company, but for podcasting as a medium, and the interest shown in us by the general public and institutional investors is incredible to see,” said CEO Ross Adams. “We look forward to continuing our expansion in our established markets as well as new geographical markets, in our pursuit to become the largest creators’ marketplace within podcasting globally, and to be the most creator-centric podcast company.”
Trading for Acast stock – under the ticker “ACAST” – began Thursday at $4.40 and at Friday’s close shares were $4.05 apiece, an 8% percent drop from Thursday’s close. Nasdaq’s First North Premier Growth Market is an exchanged geared for small and medium sized companies in the Nordic region.
As part of a strategic review of its financial structure, Acast said in March that an initial public offering was among the moves it was considering. It reported its global revenue totaled $66 million last year, with revenue in the U.S. market more than doubling with a 116% growth rate from 2019 to 2020 even with a pandemic impacting advertisers.
“Acast’s listing is an important step in our journey to cement the company’s position as the leading global podcast platform,” said board chair Andrea Gisle Joosen in a statement. “It will enable us to continue to invest in growth and innovation and deliver value to our shareholders.”
Acast was founded in 2014 and today hosts more than 28,000 shows. Acast’s headquarters are located in Stockholm, and the company has nine local subsidiaries including the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the U.K., Ireland, Australia, Norway, France, and Germany. Acast says it had 827 million listens and an organic net sales growth of 86% in the first quarter of 2021.
Billgren called going public a “proud moment” for him and their team. In a blog post, he also pointed out in their home country of Sweden a new Kantar report found that weekly and monthly podcasting reach with 16–44-year-olds is now higher than that of commercial radio.