Monday 16 January 2017 9:52 am

The company behind the Airlander "flying bum" is planning to IPO in London

The British company behind the world's biggest airship is planning to list on London's junior market.

Hybrid Air Vehicles, the maker of the Airlander hybrid aircraft nicknamed the flying bum for its appearance, will seek to raise £50m with a float pencilled in for the end of 2017 or early 2018 on London's Alternative Investment Market.

HAV is currently on the hunt for an adviser and will also seek to raise around £30m in debt financing around the same time, although it could come before or after the IPO.

Read more: Airlander (AKA the flying bum) has crashed

The firm last year raised an additional £1m via crowdfunding, giving it a valuation of around £55m. It also counts Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson among its backers and some funding via the EU Horizon 2020 grant.

But now, HAV is pursuing bigger ambitions with a float and said it has also had a number of initial approaches about a sale from aerospace industry giants. And while it will pursue a listing, a spokesperson said the company would expect to be an M&A target in the long-term.

The 10-year-old company began developing the technology for the airship as part of a US army contract along with Northrop Grumman. It started making the Airlander 10 after the contract was cancelled in 2013 and began its first test flights last year.

Read more: Here's what iZettle had to say about an IPO

It famously crash-landed on the second test-flight, but it will return to the skies shortly. The group is in talks to sell the crafts to China for use in civilian infrastructure projects, a market it called "potentially huge".

HAV expects more than 90 per cent of Airlanders to be exported, and mostly outside of the EU, to locations such as North America, the Middle East, Brazil, Africa and Asia, where there are areas with only remote access and little infrastructure. The 92 metre long Airlander can be used for work such as logistics and surveying. 

The firm will soon start working on an even larger craft – the Airlander 50.