Scottish brewer and bar operator BrewDog aims to raise £25 million from investors by selling new shares. However, rather than going to the banks, it is selling its shares directly to the public by launching the world's largest crowdfunding appeal to date.
Where your money is going
This is not the first time that BrewDog has asked its customers to help it expand through crowdfunding. Founded in Scotland in 2007, BrewDog first raised money via crowdfunding in 2010. Since then, the company has had two more 'Equity for Punks' fundraisings, the last raising £4.25 million in December 2013. Today the firm has 14,500 Equity Punk investors.
After eight years of spectacular growth, BrewDog now employs 360 workers and exports its craft ales - including its signature Punk IPA - to 55 countries worldwide. In its latest financial year, BrewDog's turnover soared by 64% to more than £29.6 million from £18 million, its sixth successive year of record growth. BrewDog expects its turnover to exceed £50 million in its current financial year.
Clearly, BrewDog is growing fast, but it wants to get much bigger, much faster. The £25 million it plans to raise will be used to build a new brewery with more than with three times the output of its current brewhouse in Ellon. In addition, the company wants to add to its chain of 28 bars, brew new beers, build a new distillation plant and a craft-beer hotel that serves ales on tap in every room.
What you get for your money
To raise this £25 million, BrewDog plans to sell 526,316 shares at £47.50 each through its 'Equity for Punks IV' scheme.
The minimum investment is two shares, costing £95 in total. The maximum online investment is 210 shares, costing £9,975, but there is no maximum for paper applications, which must be in multiples of £95. This values the business at £283 million, a stratospheric valuation of almost 10 times its latest yearly turnover.
Crowdfunding issues often entice investors with shareholder perks, and BrewDog's Equity for Punks is no exception. By buying its shares, small shareholders get 5% or 10% discounts in the company's chain of bars and 10% to 20% off when buying its ales online. They also get £10 of 'Beer Bucks' and a free birthday beer each year.
Why invest in BrewDog?
Is this share sale only for BrewDog customers and craft-beer enthusiasts, or is there a real business case for investing in this rapidly growing outfit?
By launching the largest equity crowdfunding in British history, BrewDog has set itself a tall task. The current fundraising is almost six times the £4.25 million raised in 2013. Then again, after eight years of trading, BrewDog is obviously much more than a small-to-medium-sized business. It has built up a passionate following of fans of its unique craft beers worldwide.
On its website, BrewDog describes its owners as "people who love craft beer. They are our shareholders, our friends, our community and the heart and soul of our business." Even so, this share sale is likely to attract retail investors keen to buy into BrewDog's growth story, as well as tap into a growing global army of fans of craft beers.
What are the risks?
On at least two fundamental measures, BrewDog shares are incredibly expensive. The company values itself at 9.6 times its turnover, which is a hefty price to pay. Likewise, the business is valued at around 70 times last year's operating profits which, again, is at stratospheric heights.
This bold fundraising may well flop. If it does succeed, then it will set a world record for equity crowdfunding. To put this £25 million share sale into context, it is almost 30% of the total of £84 million raised in 2014 from all UK equity crowdfunding.
And while you are buying shares in an established, fast-growing business with an exciting brand, BrewDog could still fail. Were the firm to go under, you could lose up all of the money you invested.
This ambitious venture looks like one purely for fans of craft beers, because the pure business case for investing relies on hyper-growth for many years to come.