Sneaker maker Allbirds valued at over $3 billion in strong Nasdaq debut

FILE PHOTO: The Allbirds flagship store sign is seen in Manhattan, New York City

By Echo Wang and Niket Nishant

(Reuters) – Eco-friendly sneaker maker Allbirds Inc fetched a valuation of $3.3 billion in its Nasdaq debut on Wednesday after its shares opened 41% above their offer price, joining a clutch of retailers that had strong market debuts in recent months.

Allbirds, which is backed by Leonardo DiCaprio, uses wool and other plant-based alternatives in its products. Barack Obama, Ashton Kutcher and Google co-founder Larry Page have been spotted wearing Allbirds sneakers in recent years.

“We believe that there’s an opportunity to unlock growth and financial opportunity for a business by also having very good impact on the environment”, said Joseph Zwillinger, Co-Chief Executive Officer of Allbirds.

In its prospectus earlier, Allbirds announced a set of ESG criteria called the “Sustainability Principles and Objectives (SPO) Framework”. An independent third party then assessed the company against these criteria and found that it was compliant, Allbirds said.

The company later halved the number of references to the “SPO framework” in an amended filing, but Zwillinger said those were just “semantic” changes.

“Companies like Allbirds that focus on the ESG factors that are critical to their business and operations will have a competitive advantage in competing for capital, as well as customers and talent,” said Suz Mac Cormac, a partner at law firm Morrison & Foerster, who was part of the council that designed the framework.

Shares of the company opened at $21.21 each, compared with the IPO price of $15. It sold about 20.2 million shares in its upsized offering, along with certain existing investors, to raise nearly $303 million.

Other retailers like medical scrubs maker FIGS Inc and eyewear company Warby Parker Inc have also seen strong market debuts in the United States this year as the IPO market continues on its bullish course.

Morgan Stanley, J.P. Morgan and BofA Securities are the lead underwriters.

(Reporting by Niket Nishant in Bengaluru and Echo Wang in New York; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri and Shailesh Kuber)