Cazoo founder Alex Chesterman raised a fist in triumph this afternoon (Aug 27) as he rang the New York Stock Exchange bell to signal that the online car retailer had completed its merger with special purpose acquisition company Ajax I to start trading on Wall Street.
He rang the NYSE opening bell alongside Ajax founder Daniel Och at 9.30am Eastern Time today – 2.30pm here in the UK. Ajax and Cazoo have combined under a new holding company called Cazoo Group.
Cazoo said it would receive proceeds of more than $1bn (£728m) before expenses from the flotation – valued independently at between $7bn (£5.1bn) and $8bn (£5.8bn) – as it looked to develop its brand and infrastructure across the UK and mainland Europe.
It added that the merger was approved unanimously by Ajax’s board of directors and by 95.57 per cent of its shareholders.
Chesterman – who will continue to head Cazoo as its chief executive along with the existing senior management team including chief financial officer Stephen Morana – said: ‘Today is an important and exciting day for Cazoo as we enter the public markets.
‘Since we announced the transaction earlier this year, we have continued to see record growth in our revenues and gross profit, have brought our UK vehicle reconditioning in-house, providing full control of our operations and logistics and have started buying and reconditioning cars in mainland Europe ahead of our launch later this year.
‘We remain obsessed with delivering the best car-buying and selling experience for consumers across the UK and mainland Europe, and the capital raised from this transaction will give us the resources to further accelerate our growth.
‘Our world-class team has been further strengthened by our combination with Ajax and we could not be more pleased to partner with Dan and his team.
‘The opportunities ahead of us are enormous and I am very excited about our next chapter and expect this combination to further drive our tremendous growth.’
Och and Anne Wojcicki, founder of 23andMe, will join the Cazoo Group board of directors along with Duncan Tatton-Brown (audit chairman), Moni Mannings (remuneration chairman), Luciana Berger (ESG chairman), David Hobbs (non-exec) of D1 Capital Partners, and newspaper tycoon Lord Rothermere (non-exec).
Lord Rothermere is chairman and controlling shareholder of the Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT) – a media conglomerate that includes the Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday and Metro.
He is now a step closer to taking the DMGT private in an £810m takeover, following Cazoo’s successful listing.
The DMGT owns 21 per cent of Cazoo and Lord Rothermere previously said its investment of £117m looked set to be worth eight times that when the company listed.
He also said that if the company could join the NYSE successfully, the money could help fund the planned takeover.
Och said today: ‘We are very pleased to close the business combination with Cazoo and to partner with Alex and his outstanding team.
‘By leveraging data and technology, Cazoo is delivering a superior car-buying and selling experience in the UK and mainland Europe and building a strong competitive moat.
‘With the large and fragmented nature of the market and incredibly low digital penetration, Cazoo has multiple levers to drive its growth and long-term sustainable shareholder value as it transforms the market.’