- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Airbnb hopes to raise as much as $2.6 billion in its initial public stock offering this month, betting investors will see its home-sharing model as the future of travel.

In a filing with securities regulators Tuesday, the San Francisco company said it expects to offer 51.9 million common shares priced between $44 and $50 each. The company is expected to debut on the Nasdaq stock exchange on Dec. 10, trading under the symbol “ABNB.”

Including stock options, restricted stock units and other classes of securities, Airbnb will have approximately 696 million shares. That would value the company at nearly $35 billion at the high end of its offering price, or $31 billion at the low end.

It’s a remarkable comeback for the company that delayed its IPO when the coronavirus pandemic crippled global travel in the spring. Airbnb has more than 7 million listings on its platform, run by 4 million hosts worldwide.

Its revenue fell 32% to $2.5 billion in the first nine months of this year as travelers canceled their plans. Hosts revolted when Airbnb canceled reservations without penalties. In May, the company cut 1,900 jobs - around 25% of its workforce - and slashed investments in projects not related to its core business, including movie production.

But Airbnb has recovered more quickly than traditional hotels as travelers seek whole homes in rural areas far from crowds. The number of nights and experiences booked, which plummeted 72% April, were down about 20% in July, August and September.

In Miami, for instance, short-term rental occupancy reached 83% in October, while average occupancy for hotels was 42%, according to STR, a hospitality data firm. In Nashville, rental occupancy was 59% while hotel occupancy was 44%.

Airbnb said it also expects more business people will book vacation rentals, since many can now work from home.

“We believe that the lines between travel and living are blurring, and the global pandemic has accelerated the ability to live anywhere,” Airbnb said in a recent financial filing.

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