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UPDATE 3-Eco-friendly sneaker maker Allbirds aims for $2 bln valuation in U.S. IPO

·2-min read

(Adds details on company's founding)

Oct 25 (Reuters) - Eco-friendly sneaker maker Allbirds Inc said on Monday it aims to be valued at more than $2 billion in its New York IPO, joining a growing number of firms tapping into surging consumer demand and investor interest for such products.

The company, backed by asset manager Franklin Templeton, is offering 19.2 million shares priced between $12 and $14 each, along with the selling stockholders. At the top end of that range, the IPO would fetch about $269 million.

As calls grow to limit global warming and switch to more environmentally friendly ways of living, companies have come under investor and activist pressure to contribute to the change.

Some startups that recently cashed in on the enthusiasm for such offerings were Oprah Winfrey-backed vegan milk maker Oatly Group AB and Jessica Alba's Honest Co.

Allbirds was founded in 2015 by co-Chief Executive Officers Joseph Zwillinger and Timothy Brown, a former New Zealand soccer player. The duo researched and tinkered with the properties of merino wool to craft a fabric made specifically for footwear.

The company, which counts Oscar-winning actor Leonardo DiCaprio among its backers, also uses fiber derived from eucalyptus and other plant-based alternatives in its products.

It has partnered with Adidas to create a range of sustainable sneakers, some of which have become immensely popular across Silicon Valley, where the company is based.

Celebrities, top business executives and high-profile personalities such as Barack Obama, Ashton Kutcher and Google co-founder Larry Page have been spotted wearing Allbirds sneakers in recent years.

Allbirds is a public benefit corporation, which requires its board to balance stockholder interests with those of its employees, communities and the environment.

In its latest filing, Allbirds said it expects net revenue to grow up to 32% for the three months ended Sept. 30, due to higher sales at its physical stores.

However, higher expenses are expected to drive up net losses to about $15 million to $18 million in the quarter, from nearly $7 million a year earlier.

Morgan Stanley, J.P. Morgan and BofA Securities are the lead underwriters for the offering. (Reporting by Niket Nishant in Bengaluru; Editing by Ramakrishnan M.)

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