Swedish alt-milk brand Oatly seeks $10bn US stock market listing | Food & drink industry

Source: www.theguardian.com

Fashionable Swedish alt-milk brand Oatly is seeking a US stock market listing that could value the business at as much as $10bn (£7.1bn).

Malmö-based Oatly is riding high as global demand for plant-based milk alternatives soars. The flotation follows last summer’s sale of a minority stake to a starry group of investors that included US private equity firm Blackstone, Oprah Winfrey and Jay-Z. That deal valued the company at $2bn.

On Tuesday, Oatly said it had submitted a confidential filing for an initial public offering (IPO) with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. The number of shares being sold and price range is yet to be decided, it said in the short statement.

Oatly has enjoyed stratospheric growth thanks to the combination of guerrilla marketing and good timing, as more people embrace a vegan or vegetarian diet.Its sales nearly doubled to $200m in 2019 and were predicted to do the same in 2020.

Although founded in the early 1990s, Oatly was little known outside Sweden until the arrival of Toni Petersson as chief executive in 2012. The entrepreneur has made the brand standout with the pitch that oat milk is better for the planet than cow’s milk.

Sign up to the daily Business Today email

When one first-time drinker declared “it tastes like shit!” the company printed the view on its cartons. Petersson has also appeared in its ads, including one where he is standing in a field with a synthesiser, singing “Wow, no cow!” over and over.

More recently though the brand has faced a backlash from climate and political activists for the presence of Blackstone, headed by Trump donor Stephen Schwartzman, on its share register.

The recipe for Oatly was created by Prof Rickard Öste who co-founded the company with his brother Björn. Öste’s patents underpin the manufacturing process and the academic remains the company’s head of science.