Slack sets reference price at $26 a share for public debut

Slack sets reference price at $26 a share for public debut

Company to launch direct listing Thursday

Slack Technologies Inc. is set to make its trading debut Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange with a valuation of about $15.7 billion, the second major company to go public through a so-called direct listing.

The workplace messaging company’s valuation is based on a reference price of $26 set Wednesday. Slack’s WORK, +0.00%   stock is expected to open significantly higher than this reference price, people familiar with the offering said.

In a direct listing, a company simply floats its existing stock onto a public exchange without raising any money or using underwriters. The company doesn’t choose an IPO price or who gets to buy in the night before trading begins, as is the case in a traditional IPO. Spotify Technology SA SPOT, +1.56%  , which made its trading debut in April 2018, is the only other major company to go public via direct listing.

Bankers, lawyers and investors say that if Slack goes public without major volatility or any big major hiccups, more companies could follow suit. Most notably, Airbnb Inc. has been in conversations with potential advisers about doing a direct listing next year but hasn’t made a decision yet, according to people familiar with the matter.

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