African e-commerce company, Jumia Technologies, filed for its initial public offering at the New York Stock Exchange.
The firm seeks to take advantage of rising Internet access and increasing smartphone use on the continent, Bloomberg reported.
According to the report, the company is seeking a public listing to raise funds and boost awareness, according to a filing on Tuesday and will trade under JMIA on the NYSE.
It was gathered that the IPO would value Jumia at about $1.5bn, while largest shareholder MTN Group is looking to raise about $600m to pay down debt.
Banks leading the IPO include Morgan Stanley, Citigroup Inc., Berenberg and RBC Capital Markets.
CB Insights rates Jumia as one of Africa’s three unicorns, a private company valued at more than $1bn.
The e-commerce group retailer offers in 14 African countries, including Nigeria, Kenya, Morocco and Egypt, has about four million active customers as of 2018 from 2.7 million the previous year.
“We intend to benefit from the expected growth of e-commerce in Africa through the investments that we have made and the extensive local expertise that we have developed since our founding in 2012,” Jumia said in the filing.
The company reported a loss of €170.4m ($192.4m) in 2018, compared with €165.4m in 2017. The e-commerce firm is also burning cash with negative operating cash flows of $159.2m.
Jumia was founded by French entrepreneurs, Sacha Poignonnec and Jeremy Hodara, who spied an opportunity in the lack of availability of items such as designer watches and sunglasses in Lagos stores.
MTN said at its full-year earnings presentation last week that Africa’s largest wireless carrier had identified Jumia as one of a number of e-commerce assets that could be sold as part of a 15 billion rand ($1bn) asset-disposal plan.
The Johannesburg-based company is also looking for buyers for flight-booking site, Travelstart-co.za.
Other Jumia shareholders include Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Millicom International Cellular SA, Orange SA and Africa Internet Group, a venture backed by Goldman, MTN and Rocket Internet SE.