​MYOB eyes AU$2.3b valuation after filing for IPO

Australian cloud accounting software provider MYOB is moving to return to public ownership after almost six years in private hands, on Tuesday filing its prospectus for an IPO on the ASX.

Australian cloud accounting software provider MYOB is looking to be relisted on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) by early May, after filing for an initial public offering (IPO).

Following industry speculation that it would reveal its public listing plans sometime in March, the company announced on Tuesday that it had filed its IPO prospectus with the country's corporate regulator, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).

MYOB said that the offering -- to retail and institutional investors -- is expected to raise total proceeds of AU$831.7 million to AU$833.8 million, based on an indicative range of AU$3 to AU$4 per share, representing a total enterprise valuation of AU$2.34 billion to AU$2.69 billion for the company.

MYOB, which is currently majority owned by Bain Capital, said that the US-based private asset management firm will not be selling any of its shares in the offer, and would hold approximately 57 percent of the total issued capital of the company, assuming that the final price is at the mid-point of the estimated price range.

Bain Capital bought MYOB for $1.3 billion in 2011 from Australia's Archer Capital and other shareholders, which collectively completed a takeover bid of the company in 2009, returning it to private ownership following its initial 1999 listing on the ASX.

"The return of MYOB to the ASX after six years of private ownership represents a great opportunity for both shareholders and our clients," said MYOB chairman Justin Milne.

Milne said that the company is well positioned to carry out its growth strategy, and continue to build upon its position in small business and payroll software through the rapid growth of cloud-based products.

The IPO prospectus lodgement comes as the company works to ramp up its cloud-based software portfolio amid increased competition in sector from New Zealand-headquartered cloud accounting provider Xero, among other players.

The company spent AU$42 million in research and development during the financial year ending 2014, focusing on the markets in Australia and New Zealand in a bid to drive innovation across all of its business segments.

MYOB had previously indicated that it had invested more than AU$100 million in R&D for the Australian and New Zealand markets alone over the past three years.

"The company has taken enormous strides in recent years under the ownership of Bain Capital," said MYOB CEO Tim Reed. "We have made significant investment into R&D in the business to innovate and further drive our leadership through our range of cloud accounting software.

"We continued to capitalise on this strong base with rapid adoption from both new and existing clients, with 67 percent of new clients choosing cloud products and more than 116,000 paying subscribers using our cloud solutions as at 31 December, 2014," he said.

The announcement comes as rival Xero, which is dual-listed on the ASX and the New Zealand Exchange, announced that it now claims 200,000 paying customers on its platform in Australia -- five years on from its debut in the local market.

"We believe we are now truly in the early majority phase of adoption," said Xero Australia managing director Chris Ridd. "We expect to see significantly more small businesses upgrade from traditional accounting products in the coming months and years."

Like MYOB, Xero has been pumping plenty of resources into the development of its cloud-based products and platforms, with Ridd revealing that the company has released more than 400 customer-facing updates in 2014, and 150 so far this year.