Watt reignites talk of BrewDog listing on stock market

James Watt
James Watt: ‘we will continue to wear our heart on our sleeve’

BrewDog has appointed a team of City advisers as it prepares for a long-rumoured listing on the London Stock Exchange.

A flotation, likely to value the company at about £2 billion, has been on the agenda for some time and would provide greater liquidity for its private equity investor and 200,000 ‘equity punks’ who have limited means to sell their holdings. They currently have a single day each March to trade shares.

“We’re pretty much working towards an IPO for them as much as anyone else,” says James Watt, chief executive and co-founder.

Lawyers at Freshfields have been appointed to advise on the next move with a view to raising institutional capital to underpin the Aberdeenshire brewer’s ambitious international expansion strategy.

The company has strengthened its top team with finance chief Niall McCallum and former Asda boss Allan Leighton joining as chairman. 

They may have to sweet-talk investors and the City authorities into backing a company which was roundly criticised last year by a group of former employers who accused it of having a toxic culture.

Since then Mr Watt and his senior team have worked on a review of the business to ensure its management practices improve and that employees feel more engaged with the business.

However, this is likely to weigh on the timing of an IPO and the company has said last October it was unlikely to happen before 2023.

“The key thing is getting that certainty and stability back,’ he told the Mail on Sunday, adding that it “could be this year or some point in the future, we’re working towards it.”

He said that the firm would not entertain a private equity takeover and had received takeover approaches, including two last year. “We’re very passionate about our independence,” he said.

He insists that even when it does float it will not mean the end of the company’s rebellious spirit.

“If I thought going into an IPO would change the essence of the business in any way, then it wouldn’t be part of the plan,” he said.

“We might be a slightly unconventional public company, but we’ll continue wearing our heart on our sleeve, continue to take a stand for the things that we believe in.”

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