Ocado 'close to £1bn flotation'

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The Independent Online

The online grocer Ocado aims to raise about £200m by selling new shares in a flotation next month that could value the group at about £1bn.

Ocado, which is enjoying soaring sales but has yet to make a pre-tax profit, hopes to make its stock market debut by around the middle of next month and may announce its plans as soon as next week. Ocado declined to comment yesterday.

Existing investors are expected to sell between £200m and £250m in shares. They would be led by the pension fund of John Lewis Partnership, the owner of the eponymous department stores and the Waitrose grocery chain.

JLP has a stake of almost 30 per cent in Ocado and is expected to sell up to half of that to comply with regulations on the proportion of shares it can hold in a listed company. The management is expected to sell "almost nothing".

Ocado, set up by three former Goldman Sachs bankers in 2000, has said it wants to raise money to fund a new depot.