The Ritz Herald
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in New York City, March 9, 2020. © Bryan R Smith

COVID-19 Pandemic Slows Global IPO Activity YTD 2020


The impact of COVID-19 pandemic drove YTD deals and proceeds down year-on-year. Technology, industrials and health care sectors dominate with 246 IPOs raising US$42.8b

Published on June 29, 2020

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continued to play a significant role in declining IPO activity in the first half of 2020. Overall, Q2 2020 saw a decline in IPO activity from Q2 2019 across all regions by deal numbers and for the Americas and EMEIA by proceeds. Global IPO activity slowed dramatically in April and May, with a 48% decrease by volume (97 deals) and a 67% decrease in proceeds (US$13.2b) compared to April and May 2019. This dragged down 1H 2020 regional activities compared with 1H 2019 and overall YTD deal volume (419 deals) and proceeds (US$69.5b) decreased 19% and 8%, respectively, from YTD 2019.

Despite a late flurry of deals in June, global IPO activity was sluggish on Americas and EMEIA stock exchanges YTD, while Asia-Pacific IPO activity increased. Americas deal volume (81 deals) and proceeds (US$24.5b) both fell by 30% compared with YTD 2019, while EMEIA IPO deal volume (68 deals) and proceeds (US$10.1b) fell 50% and 44%, respectively. Asia-Pacific IPO activity rose 2% by deal numbers (270 deals) and rose 56% by proceeds (US$34.9b) compared with YTD 2019. The technology, industrials and health care sectors dominated in YTD 2020. Technology saw 87 IPOs raise US$17.2b, industrials saw 83 IPOs raise US$9.6b and health care had 76 IPOs that raised US$15.9b. These and other findings were published today in the EY quarterly report, Global IPO trends: Q2 2020.

Paul Go, EY Global IPO Leader, says: “Although IPO activity declined in April and May 2020 because of the economy lockdown in most markets, we began to see a strong rebound in June. Well-prepared companies, in the right sectors and business models, can successfully adjust during the pandemic, and will find the right window of opportunity amid turbulent capital markets for the rest of 2020.”

Americas deal landscape slows

US exchanges still accounted for the majority of IPOs in the Americas in the first half of 2020, with 79% by deal volume (64 deals) and 91% by proceeds (US$22.3b); this included five unicorn IPOs. The health care and technology sectors continued to have the highest level of IPO activity in the US in YTD 2020, representing 55% and 25% by deal volume, respectively. The health care sector dominated in proceeds (US$10.2b), contributing 46%, from 35 IPOs.

The Mexican stock exchange posted one IPO valued at US$1.1b, making it the eighth-largest IPO globally in Q2 2020.

Jackie Kelley, EY Americas IPO Leader, says: “With stock prices rebounding and market sentiment improving, we are seeing signs of recovery in the IPO market. Over a third of the IPOs in the first half of 2020 occurred in June. IPO pipeline continues to build as issuers look to go public in the second half of 2020 or early 2021.”

Asia-Pacific IPO activity remains stable

Although year-on-year YTD 2020 IPO activity in Asia-Pacific rose by deal number (2%) and proceeds (56%), Q2 2020 saw a decline of 18% compared with Q2 2019 by deal number, while proceeds rose by 28%. Asia-Pacific exchanges accounted for four of the top five exchanges by deal volume and three of the top exchanges by proceeds. Globally, by proceeds, NASDAQ led YTD 2020, followed by the Shanghai Stock Exchange and Hong Kong Stock Exchange. By deal volume, Shanghai, Hong Kong and NASDAQ markets led the way.

In Greater China, IPO activity was up 29% by volume (179 deals) and 72% by proceeds (US$30.9b) YTD 2020 compared with YTD 2019.

In Japan, IPO volume (34 deals) declined 17% YTD 2020, while proceeds (US$625m) dropped by 53%. Australia and New Zealand IPO activity was also down YTD — 41% by volume and 82% by proceeds.

Ringo Choi, EY Asia-Pacific IPO Leader, says: “Although the Asia-Pacific region was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, IPO activity levels remained stable and investor appetite continued to be healthy for some markets. With the increasing consensus of maintaining high liquidity, IPO activity in the second half of 2020 should continue to be positive.”

EMEIA also sees IPO deal slowdown

After a strong start to 2020, YTD IPOs (42) and proceeds (US$7.8b) declined 47% by volume and 48% by proceeds in Europe, as the COVID-19 pandemic significantly curtailed IPO activity from March through to May. In the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), IPO activity was down 11% by volume (8 IPOs) and down 43% by proceeds (US$0.9b) YTD 2020. Indian exchanges saw 16 IPOs, which raised US$1.4b YTD 2020, a decline of 61% by deal number and 9% decrease by proceeds. There was also one IPO each on the Malawi and Bangladesh exchanges, which raised US$29m and US$7m, respectively.

Dr. Martin Steinbach, EY EMEIA IPO Leader, says: “During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen a new remote IPO environment, with virtual investor meetings, real-time feedback and shortened roadshow periods to limit the short-term market risks. With volatility levels trending down and rebounds in main indices, markets are adaptable, resilient and supportive for IPO activity to pick up in the second half of 2020, especially in technology, pharmaceuticals and life science sectors.”

H2 2020 outlook: IPO rebound expected

Given the COVID-19 outbreak and its negative impact on global economic activities, in the short to medium term, governments around the world will continue to implement policies and stimulate economies against rising unemployment. At the same time, central banks will inject more liquidity into the financial systems. Both actions bode well for equity markets and IPO activity in 2H 2020.