Klarna chief seeks golden share option to veto takeover


Boss of payments giant Klarna would want golden share to veto takeover if company lists on London Stock Exchange

  • Sebastian Siemiatkowski is mulling a company float on the public markets, but is undecided whether he would choose London or New York
  • Yet he will want to keep control over the business – and reforms to the City’s listing rules proposed by Lord Hill could make London more attractive
  • Gaining Klarna as a listed company would be a huge win for the UK – it is one of the largest financial technology firms, and is valued at £32billion 

The boss of payments giant Klarna would want a golden share to veto a takeover if the company lists on the London Stock Exchange. 

Sebastian Siemiatkowski, 39, is mulling a company float on the public markets, but is undecided whether he would choose London or New York. 

Yet he will want to keep control over the business, Siemiatkowski told the Mail – and reforms to the City’s listing rules proposed by Lord Hill could make London more attractive. 

Attractive: Gaining Klarna as a listed company would be a huge win for the UK – it is one of the largest financial technology firms, and is valued at £32billion

Gaining Klarna as a listed company would be a huge win for the UK – it is one of the largest financial technology firms, and is valued at £32billion. 

Just this month, British healthcare tech company Babylon chose a US listing because it claimed markets across the pond are ‘more innovative’. But Swedish native Siemiatkowski has an affinity for London. ‘I genuinely feel that there’s this amazing ambition and drive [in the UK],’ he said. ‘There’s a belief in business, entrepreneurship, in having global companies working in different markets.’ 

Companies with so-called dual class shares – where some of the stock, usually held by the founder, carries greater voting rights – are not allowed on the ‘premium’ segment of the London Stock Exchange. 

This can put companies off, Siemiatkowski, who launched Klarna with Niklas Adalberth and Victor Jacobsson in 2005, said: ‘I was a believer in one vote, one share. But then I found myself in a boardroom where some people said we must sell the company urgently. Other people like myself said: ‘You’re wrong.’ 

Siemiatkowski won the showdown, but the experience has left him cautious – and he doesn’t want short-term investors to target his firm if it goes public. ‘That has hurt some amazing companies,’ he said. 

The father of three would not want to pass his privileged shares onto his children: ‘My kids are getting nothing. I don’t think passing on wealth forever is a good idea.’ But his point is one which has been picked up by Lord Hill, whose listings review recommended that dual class shares should be allowed on the London Stock Exchange’s premium segment to attract more founder-led companies. 

The Financial Conduct Authority and Chancellor Rishi Sunak have said they will ‘carefully consider’ Lord Hill’s recommendations.



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