Gamblers not waiting for Twitter IPO to bet on valuation

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - Though Twitter's first day on the stock market is probably still months away, a handful of international gamblers aren't waiting for the official debut and are already laying bets on how much the social media site will be worth.

Initial public offering (IPO) experts are floating a market capitalisation for Twitter of around US$10 billion (S$12.5 billion), but bettors on the Irish gambling site Paddy Power give the shortest odds to it closing with a market cap 50 per cent to 100 per cent above that.

On Friday, odds stood at 6-to-4 of Twitter ending its first day on the public market with total value of between US$15 billion and US$20 billion.

By contrast, Facebook Inc closed with a market cap of US$81 billion on its first day.

To be sure, the volume and value of the bets remains small, with just a few dozen gamblers outside the United States (US) wagering more than 800 euros (S$1,360) on Twitter's first day market cap and how much its IPO will raise. But the action, which got underway about a month ago, does point to the growing buzz around Twitter since it announced its IPO last month.

The site can only take bets from Ireland, the United Kingdom and Australia after a crackdown by regulators put a damper on US residents betting on the outcomes of everything from presidential elections to the name of the baby of Britain's Prince William and Kate., another online betting parlour that catered to US bettors shut down in July due to financial irregularities.

Paddy Power has more than 4,000 employees, including researchers who dug deep before giving logical parameters for Twitter's first day value, said Féilim Mac An Iomaire, public relations manager for Paddy Power.

Gamblers can choose between five market cap ranges for Twitter.

Currently the longest odds, at 9-to-1, are that Twitter would be worth less than US$10 billion, while the odds it will be worth US$10 billion to US$14.9 billion or more than US$25 billion both stand at 7-to-2. Odds for the range of US$20 billion to US$24.9 billion currently come in at 15-to-8.

The Paddy Power crowd apparently is not alone in its eagerness to get into the Twitter trade.

On Friday, traders mistook the shares of a defunct home entertainment system retailer named "Tweeter," which once traded under the symbol Twitter has filed to use, "TWTR," for the real Twitter, sending its nearly worthless shares soaring. The mix-up led to more than 14.3 million shares of Tweeter to be traded, with the stock gaining nearly 600 per cent - to 5 US cents a piece.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.