March 19, 2020 / 9:31 PM / 5 months ago

Airbnb fields interest from investors seeking a stake: sources

(Reuters) - Airbnb Inc has received inquiries from potential investors who want to acquire a stake in the U.S. home rental company in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, people familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

Small toy figures are seen in front of diplayed Airbnb logo in this illustration taken March 19, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

The discussions with venture capital investors and sovereign wealth funds are at a very early stage and may not result in a transaction, the sources said, requesting anonymity as the matter is private.

Airbnb declined to comment.

Airbnb’s bookings in major cities across the world have suffered as travelers cancel trips and stay at home to protect themselves and prevent the spread of coronavirus, data from Airbnb-analytics firm AirDNA shows.

Airbnb had said in a blog posting earlier this month that coronavirus would have an impact on bookings in the near-term.

Hospitality stocks have been hammered during the outbreak, with the shares of Booking Holdings (BKNG.O) and Marriott International (MAR.O) falling 41% and 56% so far this year.

Airbnb is not currently in need of cash with around $4 billion available and unconditional revolving credit facilities, the sources said.

The company said in September it planned to list its shares in 2020, in what would be one of the most high-profile stock market debuts of the year.

It has hired Morgan Stanley (MSN) and Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N) to lead its public listing and is considering a direct listing, where no new shares are sold, instead of a traditional IPO, Reuters has reported.

A final decision on the matter has not yet been made, the sources said.

Airbnb was valued at $31 billion in its most recent private fundraising round, according to data provider PitchBook. The company sold shares in the private market earlier this year at a valuation of roughly $35 billion, around the time it purchased HotelTonight.

The talks between Airbnb and potential investors were first reported by CNBC.

Reporting by Joshua Franklin in New York and Anirban Sen in Bangalore; Editing by Chris Reese and Tom Brown

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