Newly public Lyft’s investors include Stamford’s Olympus

March 29, 2019 GMT

STAMFORD — In January 2016, private-equity firm Olympus Partners invested $50 million in an emerging ride-sharing company, then valued at around $5 billion. Today, that company is worth more than five times as much and traded on the Nasdaq stock exchange.

Ride-sharing powerhouse Lyft became a public company Friday — opening at $87.24 per share, compared with an initial public offering of $72. The IPO provides a path to liquidity for Stamford-based Olympus, which could sell the shares that comprise its single-digit percentage stake in San Francisco-based Lyft, distribute them among investors or do a combination of those options.


“This type of ‘minority-growth’ deal gives us a lot of flexibility,” Olympus founder and managing partner Rob Morris said Friday. “Our lower-percentage ownership gives us the ability to get out of stock, if it is not trading in heavy volume.”

As the largest technology IPO since Facebook in 2012, Lyft’s entry to the stock market has garnered intense interest. Its main rival, Uber, is expected to go public later this year.

For the fourth quarter of last year, Lyft counted about 18.6 million active riders, compared with 3.5 million around the time that Olympus made its investment, according to company filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

“We view the Lyft-Uber competition like Hertz and Avis,” Morris said. “It’s played out the way we thought it would, with two dominant ride-sharing companies in the U.S.”

Before Lyft, the last Olympus-backed company to hold an IPO was Symmetry Medical, in 2004.

Also this week, Olympus re-acquired Tank Holding Corp., for approximately $1 billion. In 2008, Olympus helped create the plastic-tank manufacturer — which markets its products under the Norwesco, Snyder, Bonar, Stratis and Bushman brands — and then sold it for about $830 million in 2012.

“We think there are some interesting possibilities to expand in agribusiness and also industrial sectors,” Morris said.

The Tank deal represented the first purchase made out of Olympus’ seventh fund, which is worth a company record of about $3 billion.

Olympus’ portfolio now includes 12 companies in industries including logistics, health care, financial services and consumer goods.

The firm has posted a 29 percent “gross internal rate of return” since it started investing in 1990. It ranked as a top-15 performer among U.S. funds, according to a 2016 report from alternative assets data and intelligence firm Preqin.

Investors include some of the country’s largest pension funds, such as the Virginia Retirement System, which covers about 600,000 active and retired public-sector employees.

Olympus has operated in Stamford since 1990. It is based in the Metro Center complex, at 1 Station Place, across the street from the downtown Metro-North Railroad train station.; 203-964-2236; twitter: @paulschott