Ashley Madison – the Canadian website which helps married individuals seeking extra-marital encounters – is causing ethical dilemmas for investment banker
The business – whose slogan is "Life is short. Have an affair" – is planning a share listing in London to raise $200m (£133.82m) in capital. However, financiers are distancing themselves from involvement in the listing, according to a report by The Times.
"Lots of people gamble, lots of people drink and smoke, and I don't have any objection to that, but this is something different," said the head of a major City stockbroker. "There is no way my firm will touch this deal with a 10 foot barge pole."
Other financiers were swift to agree. Sam Smith, chief executive FinnCap, a broker for smaller UK-listed companies, said: "When you bring businesses to the market, you need to believe in them and get behind them. We would struggle to do that with a business as controversial as this one."
A controversial IPO
An attempt by Ashley Madison to float on the Toronto stock market five years ago was scrapped when investors proved unwilling to fund a business based upon marital infidelity. Nevertheless, the business appears optimistic about its prospects in London.
Christopher Kraemer, Ashley Madison's head of international relations, told Reuters, "In Europe we have simply got a more laissez faire attitude towards a business such as ours."
He claims that the company does not break up families, but rather strengthens marital ties.
"The responses we get from our members who have actually had an affair via the website is that they feel happier, invigorated and transmit that happiness," he said, "which actually reinforces and ignites a spark in their marriage and relationships."
Ashley Madison's sales reached $115m (£76.95m) last year. The website has 34 million users, and plans to expand to Russia and the Baltic nations.