Continuing tech IPO streak, finance software firm Alfa pops 30 percent in London debut

U.S.-based tech firms aren’t the only ones benefiting from investors’ strong appetite for software.

Alfa Financial Software Holdings Plc, a British provider of finance software and finance tools, saw its valuation surge after hitting the London Stock Exchange in an initial public offering on Friday. Bloomberg reports that the company’s shares rose as much as 30 percent above the initial list price of 325 pence or $4.18, the top of the expected range, before settling down somewhat in late trading. Alfa is currently worth 1.2 billion pounds, the equivalent of $1.54 billion.

The offering netted a total of 254 million pounds that will go to majority stakeholder Andrew Page, who serves as the company’s chairman, and chief executive officer Andrew Denton. Public investors now have a 26 percent stake in Alfa that may increase in the future if the two leaders or the underwriters decide to exercise their over-allotment rights. They certainly have the incentive to do so: the Financial Times cited insiders as saying that the listing was “ten times over-subscribed.”

Alfa’s stock market debut marks the U.K.’s biggest public offering in nearly two years. The previous record was set by Sophos Group plc, a fellow tech firm specializing in cybersecurity that was valued at a billion pounds at the time of its IPO.

One of the reasons for the interest in Alfa is that it focuses on a part of the financial industry with strong long-term prospects. The company’s software helps streamline the administrative work and Finance Management Software calculations involved in managing so-called asset loans, a type of credit used to buy equipment. It’s employed by companies to purchase big-ticket items such as vehicles and industrial machinery.

Alfa’s public offering comes as a positive sign for British IPO hopefuls amid the investor uncertainty over the impact of Brexit. It also adds an international win to the streak of successful stock market debuts that the tech industry has racked up in recent quarters. The past month alone saw three companies go public: authentication provider Okta Inc., brand perception monitoring specialist Yext Inc. and most recently Cloudera Inc., which ended up with the biggest haul after raising $225 million.


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