April 16, 2015
Ashley Madison, an online dating agency for cheating spouses, is betting on Europe's "laissez faire" attitude to extramarital affairs to succeed in London where it failed in North America.
The website's Canadian parent plans to raise up to $200 million by listing its shares in London this year, five years after a lack of investor appetite caused it to pull an attempt to list at home.
"In Europe, we have simply got a more laissez faire attitude towards a business such as ours," Christoph Kraemer, director of international relations for Ashley Madison, told Reuters on Wednesday.
With more than 34 million members worldwide, Ashley Madison claims to be the world's second-largest dating website. Only Match.com, owned by media mogul Barry Diller's IAC/InterActive Corp <IACI.O>, is bigger.
Avid Life Media, the parent company of Ashley Madison and websites such as Cougarlife.com and EstablishedMen.com, values itself at $1 billion. It reported revenue of $115 million in 2014, up 45 percent from the preceding year.
The plan to list in London was first reported by Bloomberg.
The company plans to launch its services in Russia, Ukraine and the Baltic states in late May or June, Kraemer told Reuters. Membership is growing quickest in India, South Korea and Japan.
Visitors to Ashley Madison's website - tagline "Life is short. Have an affair" - are greeted by a blonde woman, eyes out of shot and extending her finger across her lips in a shushing gesture. She is wearing what appears to be a wedding ring.
The site allows members to sign up without disclosing personal information such as their name, telephone number or home address.
"It is for people who are married, who are seeking an affair and want to do so in a discreet environment," Kraemer said.
Sometimes, he says, the website can even help married couples.
"The response we get from our members who have actually had an affair via the website is that they feel happier, invigorated and transmit that happiness, which actually reinforces and ignites a spark in their marriage and relationships," he said.