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(Adds detail from banking source)
By Alexander Marrow, Olga Popova and Jake Cordell
MOSCOW, Nov 28 (Reuters) - E-scooter firm Whoosh said on Monday it is considering an initial public offering (IPO) on the Moscow Exchange, in what would be Russia's first public listing since the country began what it calls a "special military operation" in Ukraine.
From commodities to finance and retail, at least 10 companies had been looking to go public in 2022, advisers and bankers said late last year, before Russia's IPO market stalled.
Whoosh did not say how much it was seeking to raise, but said it would use the capital to expand its fleet of electric scooters, enter new regions and strengthen its market position.
An investment banking source told Reuters order books could open as early as next week, and that the deal is expected to close by the middle of December. The placement will target institutional as well as retail investors, the source added.
Whoosh said in a statement that existing shareholders would sell down some of their stake in the IPO to boost liquidity in the offering. Whoosh's founders own about 75% of its equity, with Ultimate Capital holding 12.9% and VIM Investments 13.7%.
The company operates in around 40 locations across Russia and its e-scooters are a common sight around Moscow, until snowfall forces a winter break.
"The intention to become a public company is the next stage in the development of Whoosh and the Russian market as a whole," said its founder and General Director Dmitry Chuyko, adding the IPO would represent a "turning point" for Russian businesses operating in the so-called sharing economy.
Whoosh said it sees the Russian e-scooter market growing ten-fold to 96 billion roubles by 2026.
Sources told Reuters in September that Whoosh was hoping to raise about 10 billion roubles ($165 million) at a valuation of about 40 billion roubles.
Russia's stock market has fallen more than 40% this year amid an exodus of Western firms, a month-long closure of the stock market and a wide-ranging package of sanctions.
But Whoosh's announcement adds to recent signs of life in Russian equity markets after cybersecurity firm Positive Technologies held a secondary public offering in September.
Whoosh said its revenues jumped 70% to 6.3 billion roubles in the first nine months of 2022, while profit slipped 10% to 1.6 billion. It registered 46.6 million individual rides on its e-scooters during the same period, more than double last year. ($1 = 60.71 roubles) (Reporting by Alexander Marrow, Olga Popova and Jake Cordell; Additional reporting by Caleb Davis; Editing by Mark Trevelyan, Alexander Smith and Jan Harvey)
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