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Palantir valued at $16bn ahead of New York listing

James Titcomb
·2-min read
Palantir co-founder Peter Thiel - Bloomberg
Palantir co-founder Peter Thiel - Bloomberg

Palantir, the US data mining company that has worked with the US military and the NHS, is set to be valued at around $16bn (£12.4bn) when it floats on the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday.

The NYSE announced a $7.25 a share “reference price” for the company on Tuesday night, which would make Palantir worth around $15.7bn. The value is well below the $22bn that some bankers had reportedly expected last week, and even below the $20.4bn the company was valued at in 2015.

Palantir’s software, which analyses large quantities of data to arrive at “a single source of truth”, has been used by the US military to predict the location of explosives on the battlefield and by the NHS to analyse information about Covid-19 outbreaks.

The company’s biggest shareholder is co-founder Peter Thiel, an early PayPal boss and one of the earliest investors in Facebook. Mr Thiel is controversial in Silicon Valley for his links to Donald Trump, and Palantir itself has been criticised by human rights organisations for its work with US border agencies.

The company, which recently moved its headquarters away from Silicon Valley to Denver, has distanced itself from the rest of the tech industry, saying it will not shy away from government contracts but insisting that it would refuse to work for the Chinese government.

The company has never turned a profit in 17 years, but says it will be profitable this year, after adjustments for stock-based compensation.

Palantir is pursuing an unusual direct listing, in which it does not sell a set number of shares at a fixed price arranged by bankers, but allows its shares to float, creating uncertainty about the first minutes of trading. Shares are not guaranteed to open at the reference price announced by the NYSE on Tuesday, which merely reflects private trading in the run up to the listing.