Business

Shares in former US president Donald Trump’s media firm have soared on their stock market debut in New York, leaving his majority holding worth more than $5bn (£4bn) on paper.

Trump Media & Technology Group (TMTG), the vehicle for his social media rival to X called Truth Social, gained 40% when trading got under way on the Nasdaq.

It took the company’s valuation beyond $9.25bn (£7.3bn) within hours but the peak value faded away ahead of the market close.

Analysts suggested that investors were mostly supporters of Mr Trump ahead of the looming presidential election rather than institutions and that it was the most trending stock on US exchanges.

The shares were trading under the ticker name of DJT – Mr Trump’s initials – giving it a personal stamp as he faces a series of big legal bills from four criminal trials and struggles to raise funds for his bid for a new term in the White House.

The stock market listing was only possible due to a merger with a publicly-listed shell company called Digital World Acquisition Corp.

That deal, which was two years in the making, was completed earlier this week following regulatory approval, allowing that company to become TMTG.

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His use of the so-called special purpose acquisition firm (SPAC) to float TMTG meant he bypassed the traditional route to market through an Initial Public Offering.

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The share sale will give $300m to Truth Social, which claims to have tens of millions of users.

Filings show it brought in $3.5m of revenue from its operations in the first nine months of 2023, with losses of ten times that sum.

Mr Trump launched Truth Social in 2022 after he was banned from Facebook and Twitter, now known as X.

Trump Media said in a statement: “We believe that the commencement of trading of DJT on the public markets testifies to Americans’ demands for free-speech platforms that reject the stifling censorship imposed by Big Tech.”

Market experts were quick to jump on the numbers.

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Thomas Hayes, chairman of Great Hill Capital, said: “The valuation of the business is rich relative to its underlying fundamentals, but I would not get in front of it in the near term.

“This valuation may be more of a proxy on the enthusiasm of supporters for Trump than a reasonable estimate of underlying business prospects.”

So-called lock-up rules prevent Mr Trump from accessing his 78.75 million shares in TMTG – a 69% stake – for at least six months.

However, it is believed that the board could grant him a waiver.

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