BUSINESS

Ashley Madison IPO Will Be In London Because Toronto's Too Prudish, Apparently

04/15/2015 12:36 EDT | Updated 04/15/2015 12:59 EDT
JUNG YEON-JE via Getty Images
Ashley Madison's International Affairs Director Christoph Kraemer speaks during a press conference in Seoul on April 14, 2015. The global adultery hook-up site Ashley Madison has come back to business in South Korea with vengeance after the country's Constitutional Court struck down a 65-year-old adultery law. AFP PHOTO / JUNG YEON-JE (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)

Here’s your chance to buy a piece of the booming adultery business.

Ashley Madison, the Toronto-based website for married people looking to have an affair, is planning to launch an IPO in London, according to reports at the Financial Times and Bloomberg.

Parent company Avid Life Media says it aims to raise US$200 million by selling shares to the public, which it will use to fund its expansion into the “the international market of adultery.”

But why the London Stock Exchange, and not Toronto? Because Ashley Madison tried an IPO in Toronto about five years ago, and it failed, many say because the Toronto market was too prudish to buy stock in a company that makes tens of millions annually hooking up cheaters around the world.

This time, Ashley Madison is trying in Europe because of the continent’s more liberal attitude towards sex, the company’s head of international relations, Christoph Kraemer, told Bloomberg.

“Europe is the only region where we have a real chance of doing an IPO,” he said.

“We’re no longer a niche, but it’s been difficult in North America to find the support to go public.”

He told the Financial Times the “most logical” place for the IPO would have been Asia, thanks to its booming economy, but the IPO would likely have suffered similar problems there as in Canada.

Ashley Madison had sales of $115 million last year, four times as much as in 2009. The company earns money by charging male subscribers for credits to contact female subscribers, or to buy them online gifts.

It says it has 36 million members in 43 countries, and claims to be the world’s second-largest paid dating site, after Match.com. It says female membership is growing 10 per cent faster than male membership.

The company estimates its total value at around US$1 billion.

Ashley Madison has been expanding aggressively into markets in Europe and Asia, and recently took partial credit for the abolition of a South Korean law that forbade adultery.

It was also involved in a lawsuit against one of its own employees, who alleged she damaged her wrist creating fake profiles for the site.

The suit and Ashley Madison’s countersuit against the employee were both tossed out of court, with no damages awarded, in January.

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