- Worst quarter in 13 years for ECM deals
- Fees down 74% in the quarter, 73% year to date
- Fate of planned Porsche, Arm IPO still uncertain
- Chinese banks take top spot in ECM league tables
Recession fears along with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine shocked the equity capital markets (ECM) in the second quarter, denying bankers of lucrative fees for organizing stock sales such as initial public offerings (IPOs).
The slowdown pushed global investment banks’ fees from ECM deals down 74% to $2.6 billion, based on Refinitiv data, taking a hit from the worst quarter in 13 years for ECM markets globally.
IPOs and other capital fetching exercises by listed companies added up to $94 billion between end-March and June 21, a quarter of the amount fetched during a similar period a year ago because of the slump in European and U.S. deals.
Bankers expect market conditions will get better in the second half of this year, with chip-maker ARM, luxury automaker Porsche, and skincare firm Galderma projected to catch the next available IPO window.
Some IPO optimists, however, have disregarded 2022 altogether. Jerome Renard, head of EU Equity Capital Markets at Bank of America, stated:
“In 2022, it is going to be materially impossible to reach a level close to the volume of operations that was done last year. There is no time.”
On June 30, Italy’s electrode maker Industrie De Nora (DNR.MI) fell 3.1 percentage points on its debut in Milan as the group became the first large company to list on Italy’s main market since Russia invaded Ukraine.
Companies Postpone IPOs
Swiss engineering and technology company ABB last week called off the IPO of its E-mobility electric vehicles charging business plan, pointing to “challenging” market conditions.
Italian oil and gas group Eni gave a similar reason for postponing the market debut of its retail and renewables unit.
Other U.S. companies have taken similar measures, including Mobileye, the self-driving car unit of Intel Corp (INTC.O) and social media site Reddit Inc. Brad Miller, head of ECM Americas at UBS. The U.S. Labor Day holiday occurs on September 5 this year, stated:
“Most of the growth-oriented companies across tech, healthcare and consumer looking to IPO have already pushed their dates to enter the market into the post-Labor Day timeframe.”
Miller said some IPO candidates have rescheduled to 2023 or until the outlook is clearer on interest rates, inflation, and the market. Europe and the United States, which traditionally make up about 60% of the global IPOs market, accounted for only 9% of second-quarter issuance, after dropping 96% from last year.
Secondary stock sales fell 70% year-on-year in the quarter, while convertible debt offerings slumped 85% to 7 billion euros. While bankers lamented about the weak market, investors applauded the lower prices.
Luc Mouzon, head of ECM at France-based asset manager Amundi, which invests in stock sales, explained:
“This year has not been bad because what we have been offered is the upper end of the basket in terms of quality and also the lower end in terms of the valuations.”
Last was a historical year for IPO issuance, but an unpleasant one for IPO investors. Most of last year’s largest listings are trading well beneath their debut price with the FTSE Renaissance IPO Index for Europe, Africa, and the Middle East down almost 45% so far this year (.FTIPOS).
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“We all know there is a game that tends to be cyclical,” said Amundi’s Mouzon. “It’s not great to be the one that puts the last bid when the music stops.”
The celebration has also come to an end for blank-check companies – formally called special purpose acquisition companies, or SPACs, with tighter regulatory scrutiny and diminishing investor interest.
This shift in investors’ appetite together with slumps in other equity underwritings including traditional IPOs, has inverted the league tables, normally influenced by U.S. banks.
So far this year, up to five Chinese banks have been classed in the top 10 in ECM fees. In 2021, the first Chinese, CITIC, ranked ninth. Stephane Gruffat, co-head of Equity Capital Markets at Deutsche Bank, commented:
“We have witnessed a significant correction in multiples, which has certainly had an impact on whether selling shareholders and issuers are willing to access the public market in the current context.”
With Wall Street’s “fear gauge,” the Cboe Volatility Index (.VIX), lingered at 29, way over the 20 safety marker for an IPO, bankers have been seeking cornerstone investors to back their IPOs.
These investors, who pledge to buy shares ahead of the formal conclusion of the book-building process, help restore confidence in the market.
Richard Cormack, co-head of ECM in EMEA at Goldman Sachs, said:
“We believe that cornerstone or anchor processes will be of ever-increasing importance for upcoming IPOs to increase transaction certainty and reduce market risk periods post-launch.”
This strategy is going to be observed by Spanish renewable company Opdenergy, which on Wednesday disclosed plans to launch an IPO to secure up to 200 million euros and is in progressive discussions with a cornerstone investor to underwrite about 25% of the offering.