June 12, 2020 / 12:18 AM / 22 days ago

UPDATE 2-Palantir close to registering for stock market debut -sources

(Adds more background on company and valuation)

By Joshua Franklin and Anirban Sen

June 11 (Reuters) - Data mining firm Palantir Technologies Inc is aiming to file confidentially with U.S. regulators to go public in the coming weeks, emboldened by the strong performance of other initial public offerings (IPOs), people familiar with the matter said.

A string of successful IPOs is paving the way for Silicon Valley firms, concerned about the economic fallout of the global coronavirus outbreak, to follow suit. Shares of online used car seller Vroom Inc more than doubled in their Nasdaq debut on Tuesday, on the heels of eight companies last week that raised more in their IPO than they had planned.

Becoming a publicly listed company would subject Palantir to new scrutiny from investors and the media. Co-founded in 2004 by billionaire Peter Thiel, the data analytics company has been involved in some of the U.S. government's most politically sensitive projects, from identifying terrorists to the tracking of illegal immigrants.

Palantir is still deliberating whether to go public via a traditional IPO or a direct listing, the sources said, requesting anonymity as the deliberations are private.

Palantir could go public as soon as September, though the timetable is subject to change and market conditions, the sources said.

A spokeswoman for Palantir declined to comment.

Palantir has not yet hired investment banks for a listing, but is in discussions with potential advisers that could serve as underwriters, the sources said. Morgan Stanley is expected to have a leading role, the sources added.

A Morgan Stanley spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Palantir was valued at around $20 billion in its most recent fundraising round in 2015. In the private market, its shares have been trading in recent weeks at a valuation of between $10 billion and $12 billion, according to market sources.

Palantir expects revenue in 2020 to grow to $1 billion from around $700 million in 2019, according to the sources. For 2021, Palantir expects revenues growing to around $1.5 billion, the sources said. In 2015, the company had told investors it anticipated revenues of around $4 billion by the time it went public, one of the sources added.

The company has communicated to existing investors the success it has had of late in winning government contracts, both in the United States and overseas, sources said.

Palantir specializes in analyzing large quantities of data. Its customers range from global banks to the U.S. government and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The company's technology aided the U.S. government's successful search for Osama bin Laden, according to multiple media reports.

Public scrutiny of major technology companies working with law enforcement authorities and government agencies has intensified in the wake of protests over the treatment of George Floyd, a black man who died in Minneapolis on May 25 after a white police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

Amazon.com Inc said on Wednesday it was implementing a one-year moratorium on police use of its facial recognition software, halting a business it long defended as many protested law enforcement brutality against people of color. Amazon said it would continue to permit the technology's use by customers that help law enforcement find human trafficking victims.

Palantir has also been working with a number of countries to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, by tracing the spread of the virus and managing the production of critical medical supplies. (Reporting by Joshua Franklin in New York and Anirban Sen in Bangalore; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Daniel Wallis)

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