BERLIN (Reuters) - Rocket Internet, the German venture capital group behind dozens of online start-ups, will aim to raise new capital to help it grow rather than see current owners cash out if it decides to proceed with a listing, sources close to the matter said.
"Rocket only wants to raise money for future growth," said a source familiar with the company's thinking.
"If a Rocket IPO (initial public offering) does go ahead it will be all primary capital. The existing shareholders are not planning to sell shares or take any money out of the business."
Sources have told Reuters the company is considering a stock market listing in Frankfurt later this year which could value it at up to 5 billion euros (4 billion pounds), as buoyant capital markets have encouraged a flurry of e-commerce flotations.
German business monthly Manager Magazin reported last week that Rocket Internet was considering making a payout to existing investors financed by debt ahead of any IPO, leaving few proceeds left for new growth.
Rocket Internet is bidding to create the largest internet empire outside the United States and China, seeking to replicate the success of Amazon and Alibaba [IPO-ALIB.N] in markets the U.S. and Chinese e-commerce groups have yet to dominate, such as Africa, Latin America and Russia.
Rocket Internet was founded in 2007 by brothers Oliver, Marc and Alexander Samwer. It is already active in 102 countries, making revenue of $1 billion in 2013 via online fashion stores including Dafiti in Latin America and Lamoda in Russia, as well as Jumia for general merchandise in Africa.
Oliver Samwer said last week e-commerce had even better prospects in emerging markets than in developed economies, as online sites do not have to compete with such established stores.
The Samwers have raised 3.5 billion euros of funding for Rocket Internet and its ventures, sources say, including from Swedish investor AB Kinnevik, billionaire American industrialist Leonard Blavatnik, JP Morgan Asset Management and retailers such as Britain's Tesco and Germany's Tengelmann and Rewe.
Rocket Internet also helped launch Zalando, Europe's biggest online fashion retailer, which is considering its own stock market listing. Rocket is no longer invested in Zalando, but the Samwer brothers' European Founders Fund still owns 18 percent.
(Editing by Mark Potter)