By Douglas Busvine
BERLIN, July 14 (Reuters) - Travel tech startup HomeToGo on Wednesday became the first company to seal a deal to float on the German stock market by merging with a listed shell company, as it tied up with venture capitalist Klaus Hommels' Lakestar SPAC I LRS1.DE.
The merger puts an equity value of 1.2 billion euros ($1.4 billion) on HomeToGo, a Berlin-based marketplace for vacation rentals that connects travellers with online travel agents and independent landlords.
HomeToGo recovered from a travel slump early in the coronavirus pandemic to post record gross booking value of 1.3 billion euros last year, when it came close to breaking even at an adjusted EBITDA level.
Pandemic trends such as 'workations', when people extend their holidays to work remotely, helped fuel 27% growth in gross booking value to 904 million euros in the first half of this year.
"High-quality, multi-purpose and unique vacation rentals are the new zeitgeist, and this trend has drastically accelerated over the last year," HomeToGo co-founder and Chief Executive Patrick Andrae said in a statement.
Hommels, founder of Swiss-based venture capital fund Lakestar, floated the first special-purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, in Frankfurt earlier this year in a bid to create a route for startups to go public in Europe rather than having to go to the bigger U.S. stock market.
His search for a target was short: Lakestar had already backed a $170 million investment round at HomeToGo in 2018 that put a post-money valuation on the business of $630 million, meaning that HomeToGo has more than doubled in value since then.
In addition to the 275 million euros that the Lakestar SPAC raised in February, investors will commit a further 75 million euros to a so-called public investment in private equity (PIPE) as part of the merger.
The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter of 2021, subject to shareholder approval, and the company will be listed in Frankfurt under the 'HTG' ticker. ($1 = 0.8475 euros)
(Reporting by Douglas Busvine; Editing by Emma Thomasson and Steve Orlofsky)
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