Shares in UK behavioural network security business Darktrace (DARK) jumped more than 40% on their stock market debut after cutting the starting valuation.

The shares were priced at 250p for a £1.7 billion London listing, but the stock rallied in early trading to hit 355p, well above the 220p to 280p range set by its brokers when its roadshow began on 26 April 2021.

The strong start to stock market life for Darktrace comes as a huge lift to the UK IPO (initial public offering) scene after confidence took a battering last month when Deliveroo, the biggest listing of the year, plunged after many major institutional investors steered clear.

DELIVEROO DISCOUNT

The food delivery platform floated at 390p but lost a third of its value on its opening day. The stock has continued to fall, currently trading at 264p as investors fret over long-run growth prospects and criticisms over how it treats its army of drivers and riders.

When Darktrace first announced it would list in London on 19 April, speculation ran rife of a valuation as high as £3.6 billion. But in the weeks since there has been a stream of whispers that convincing investors to back the IPO at that level was proving a struggle.

Reports emerged last week that the price had been cut to between £2.4 billion and £2.7 billion.

‘While the early pop is strong, it's still worth noting that the IPO process has been marred by rumours and drama,’ said Megabuyte analyst Indraneel Arampatta.

Invoke Capital, set up by Mike Lynch, is Darktrace’s largest investor and has been involved from an early stage. He founded UK firm Autonomy and has been dragged into a long-running blockbuster £4 billion legal battle after selling that company to US tech giant HP in 2011.

Lynch sits on Darktrace’s science and technology committee and there are several former Autonomy executives on board, including chief executive officer Poppy Gustafsson and chief strategy officer Nicole Eagan.

SMART CYBER SECURITY

Darktrace’s core solution is its Enterprise Immune System (EIS), a vertical agnostic platform that uses behavioural analysis to detect the early signs of a cyberattack on a network. In simple terms, the platform creates behavioural models of network users and, through pattern recognition, looks for abnormal activity.

‘EIS is able to detect both insider and external threats,’ said Arampatta.

The Cambridge-based company has also developed complementary solutions, such as Antigena, an extension to its core platform that adds security orchestration automation and response capabilities, and Industrial, which is focused on industrial IoT networks.

‘One thing is for sure, it’s ticker may now be DARK, but it’s out in the spotlight now,’ said Megabuyte’s Arampatta. ‘We await with interest to see whether the early share price jump is sustained.’

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Issue Date: 30 Apr 2021