Typically, one would expect pockets of strength to make up for weaker activity in other regions, but listings are down across the US, Europe and Asia. It seems this particular IPO slump does not discriminate. In the Americas, the number of listings are down 72% year-on-year so far this year, with total capital raised down 94%. The picture is similar in the Asia-Pacific region, where the number of companies floating and the amount of capital raised are down 25% and 22%, respectively. Europe, the Middle East and Africa are also struggling, with listing numbers and capital raising both down more than 50%.
So why is activity down so much given the strength of the IPO market last year? Put simply, a toxic combination of soaring inflation, rapidly-rising interest rates, exceptional market volatility and warnings of a major global recession has weakened investor appetite for IPOs. As a result, many of the companies that were planning to float this year or next have decided to temporarily put their plans on ice or to raise capital via other means. However, while market conditions are currently very challenging, there are some signs that the great IPO freeze is beginning to thaw – even if it is too soon yet to say the market is in recovery mode.
This year we have seen a handful of blockbuster IPOs come to market, the sort of confidence boosting deals investors look to when conditions are tough. Porsche’s debut on public markets last month has undisputedly been the most highly-anticipated IPO so far in 2022. The luxury German sportscar brand achieved a valuation of €75 billion (£65.8 billion), making it one of Europe’s largest-ever IPOs in terms of market capitalisation. It means Porsche is currently the world’s fourth most-valuable automaker, ahead of Ford, Mercedes-Benz and even former parent Volkswagen.
That hasn’t been the only recent eye-catching IPO so far this year. Corebridge Financial, the life and asset management are of insurance giant AIG, completed the largest US listing of 2022 so far last month, raising $1.7 billion and achieving a market capitalisation of $13.5 billion (£12.2 billion).
While that valuation was some way off the top of Corebridge’s target range, it was proof that even in these testing times, some appetite remains among investors for big-ticket floats.
The question on everyone’s lips will be: will these high-profile listings be enough to rekindle investor enthusiasm and jolt the IPO market back into life?
America's S&P 500 index has fallen more than 25%
America’s S&P 500 index is technically in bear market territory, having fallen more than 25% since the start of the year. JPMorgan chief executive Jamie Dixon warned earlier this month that the index could fall a further 20%.
Germany’s Dax indices are down more than 24%
The picture is similar in Europe, too. France’s CAC 40 and Germany’s Dax indices are down more than 24% and 19% since the start of 2022. While the UK’s FTSE 100 has fared slightly better, the index is still more than 8% lower than it was at the start of the year.
With central banks in advanced economies embarking on programmes of rapid monetary policy tightening and the war in Ukraine having sent energy prices soaring, the chances of a recession have increased. According to some observers, Europe looks particularly vulnerable given the continent’s addiction to Russian gas.
While Asia is largely insulated from war in Europe, China’s strict zero-Covid policy is expected to act as a drag on growth this year and in 2023, which could cause a negative ripple effect throughout the global economy.
However, while that may sound bleak, there is cause for optimism. The good news is that there are plenty of high-valuation firms keen to IPO and waiting in the wings for conditions to improve.