Shares of Dating Site Match Jump in Market Debut

Reuters

Shares of media mogul Barry Diller'sMatch Group Inc, the owner of popular dating siteMatch.com and mobile app Tinder, jumped as much 16 percent in their market debut on Thursday, valuing the company at $3.34 billion.

The company's initial public offering raised $400 million after the shares were priced at $12 each, at the lower end of the expected range of $12-$14.

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The stock was trading at $13 shortly after the opening.

Match Group, which touts itself as the world's No. 1 dating company, plans to use the proceeds to repay debt owed to its parent, Diller's IAC/InterActiveCorp.

IAC, whose shares were up 0.4 percent in early trading, retains a stake of about 86 percent in Match.

The U.S. online romance market, worth more than $2 billion a year, has thrived as instant messaging, photo-sharing and geolocation services grow in popularity.

Match, which also owns OkCupid and OurTime, has driven IAC's profit and revenue in recent quarters and is seen as the crown jewel of Diller's media properties.

With more than 59 million monthly active users and about 4.7 million paid members as of Sept. 30, Match operates in 190 countries and 38 languages.

Revenue rose 10.6 percent to $888.3 million in 2014, while net earnings increased 17.2 percent to $148.4 million.

One of Match's most popular offerings is Tinder, a mobile app on which people "swipe right" or "swipe left" to signal their willingness - or not - to meet prospective partners.

Match Group has come to the market at a time when concerns about slowing global growth has eroded confidence in stocks, causing several companies to discount or delay IPOs.

More than 50 companies have withdrawn plans to go public in the United States this year, according to Thomson Reuters data.

But the solid opening along with the stellar debut of mobile payments company Square Inc on Thursday offered hope to investors. Square's shares rose as much as 64 percent.

JPMorgan Chase & Co, Allen & Co and Bank of America Merrill Lynch were among underwriters for Match Group's offering.

(Reporting by Richa Naidu in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva and Ted Kerr)