Touch Ventures Ltd became a rare Australian company today – an ASX-listed venture capital firm – and investors keen to back high-growth companies embraced to chance to grab a slice of the action.
Touch (ASX: TVL) raised $100 million for its IPO at 40 cents a share. The company, previously known as AP Ventures, is backed by ASX-listed buy-now-pay-later fintech Afterpay (ASX:APT), which originally had a 44% stake in the VC business when it launched before selling down to a 24.3% holding on listing.
Touch Ventures shares initially rose by more than 40% to 74 cents in early trade today before closing around 26% higher at 50.5 cents on its opening day.
CEO Hein Vogel said listing was an exciting next step as they built out the Touch investment portfolio.
“While this is an important milestone, the journey for Touch Ventures has just begun and we look forward to working with leading entrepreneurs in Australia and offshore who are building the next generation of companies which will drive the local and global economies,” he said.
New investors in the Touch from the IPO include New Zealand’s Hujlich family as a substantial shareholder with a 5.26% slice of the venture, now worth around $18.9 million.
Touch Ventures chairman Mike Jeffries is also among the top 15 shareholders with a 1.28% holding worth around $4.6 million tucked into his super fund, just behind Alex Waislitz’s Thorney Technologies with 1.3%. Fellow Touch board member John McBain also makes to the top 20 with a 1.03% stake in his super.
US-based Afterpay investor Woodson Capital is Touch’s second largest stakeholder with 6.14%.
The move to public listing is rare for Australian venture capital funds, with Bailador Technology Investments (ASX: BTI), run by former All Blacks captain and Fairfax boss David Kirk the exception.
Then there was Brisbane-based Blue Sky Alternative Investments, at one stage valued at around $1 billion which came under sustained pressure from short-seller Glaucus Research in early 2018, and within a year, as one of its key investments, Shoes of Prey, also collapsed, was placed into voluntary administration at the behest of Oaktree Capital Partners.
Touch Ventures now has $75 million invested in several companies, most recently announced a $1 million seed round for a 10% equity stake in fintech Refundid, dubbed “Afterpay for refunds”.
The VC’s hunt for high growth, scalable startups also includes companies that can leverage Afterpay’s ecosystem.