The People's Operator (TPO), a London-based mobile virtual network operator that donates 10 per cent of each subscriber's bill to a charity of their choice, on Monday announced its intention to raise funds for its expansion into the U.S. market by placing new shares on the AIM market of the London Stock Exchange.
The proposed flotation is expected to take place in November with finnCap acting as adviser. Quoting unnamed sources in London, the Telegraph said the float could value TPO at more than £100 million (€127 million/$161 million).
In a statement, the company's board said the proceeds would be used in part to build the infrastructure required to expand into other countries. The United States is set to be the next port of call, with a launch planned for 2015. TPO said it recently signed an MVNO agreement with U.S.-based operator Sprint.
"We intend to be the first international mobile operator which has successfully built a global customer base via online communities and viral networking," said Jimmy Wales, founder of the online encyclopaedia Wikipedia who joined TPO as executive director of strategy and digital community in January.
TPO was founded in 2012 and launched pay-monthly and pay-as-you-go (PAYG) mobile services on the UK market with the objective of donating some of its revenue to charity. Its UK network partner is EE. As well as the 10 per cent of the user's monthly bill, TPO also donates 25 per cent of its trading profits to the TPO Foundation, which is a UK-registered charity.
The operator said it currently has more than 10,000 subscribers, up from about 5,800 as of June 30; around 2,000 of these subscribers have been added since the end of August 2014 alone. Average revenue per user is £11 for PAYG customers and £17 for pay-monthly customers.
Interestingly, TPO said its overall blended customer acquisition cost is £8, which it said compares favourably to the £68 that is typical for a major UK operator.
TPO said it believes that its business model is rapidly scalable into new markets.
Andrew Rosenfeld, chairman, said: "We started TPO from a warehouse in East London, and in less than two years' trading, the company is now poised for global expansion. Our operating deal with Sprint Corporation along with Jimmy's plans for viral online growth will I believe have a dramatic impact on revenues and thereby deliver significant returns to shareholders."
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