Last year was an OK one for initial public offerings worldwide, but it was far from the blockbuster of 2014.
According to two research reports from IPO tracking firm Renaissance Capital — one measuring global IPOs and the other those in the U.S. — global IPOs raised only $156.5 billion last year, down 35 percent from 2014’s seven-year high of $241.5 billion. Last year was still decent when compared with the $139.3 billion raised in 2013, the $99.0 billion raised in 2012 and the $137.9 billion raised in 2011. The Asia-Pacific region was again dominant in 2015, with a 44.7 percent share of all proceeds raised, mostly from financial services firms. Europe ran a close second, representing 35.3 percent of global proceeds raised. The Hong Kong Exchange led IPO proceeds across all global exchanges, with 33 IPOs raising $28.7 billion.
In comparison, U.S. IPO market activity was a disappointment in 2015, with 170 IPOs to market raising just $30 billion and representing a six-year low. That’s in contrast to 2014 when 272 IPOs raised $85.3 billion and to 2013 when 222 IPOs raised $54.9 billion. For the first eight months, the IPO market was on target to reach more than 200 IPOs, but issuance slowed in August and September and stalled at year’s end. Renaissance said there wasn’t any one explanation for the decline in U.S. activity, noting instead several factors driving the slowdown: Uncertainties about Federal Reserve and European monetary policies; concerns over the Chinese economy; poor IPO performance; declining energy prices, and increases in M&A and private market transactions.
While the health-care IPO reached a record 46 percent of deal flow due to biotechs, tech deal count dropped 56 percent last year. Renaissance attributed the lack of tech IPOs to the availability of pre-IPO funding from the private sector, as well as to valuation disconnects between private and public investors.
Even though A-share issuance in China was open for only seven months last year, China’s IPO market still accounted for nine of the 10 best-performing IPOs of 2015. Top performers included movie theater chain operator Wanda Cinema Line, e-commerce Web site Happigo Home Shopping and steel products manufacturer Shanghai Baosteel Packaging. Excluding China’s A-Share market, best-performing IPOs globally came from the consumer and health-care sectors and include Swedish online casino operator Evolution Gaming Group, Chinese lingerie retailer Regina Miracle and three U.S.-listed biotechs: Spark Therapeutics, Seres Therapeutics and Penumbra.
Renaissance said issuance in Asia and Europe remained strong at the end of 2015, and “we expect this momentum to carry through to 2016.” It also expects a number of Chinese firms looking to list in Hong Kong to represent some of the largest deals for 2016: Postal Savings Bank of China, expecting to raise $10 billion; online lending platform Lufax, raising $5 billion, and Bank of Beijing, raising $4 billion.
On the U.S. front, the IPO tracking firm said a pickup in tech issuance could occur. It also noted several LBOs that had prepared to go public last year, only to get deferred. One example is Neiman Marcus, and the other is supermarket chain Albertsons. Indoor cycling chain SoulCycle has been on file since the third quarter and could go at any time. At the end of 2015, the U.S. IPO pipeline had 118 companies looking to raise $27 billion.
Renaissance said the pace of U.S. IPO activity in 2016 will start slowly as both issuers and investors reset expectations and test investor appetite. “We suspect that the 2016 U.S. IPO market may be driven by factors not yet on the table,” the report said.