Poor first quarter casts shadow on 2012 Canadian IPO Market: PwC

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TORONTO, April 2, 2012 - One of the poorest quarters for Initial Public Offering (IPO) activity in recent history has left the Canadian IPO market struggling for traction, and the outlook for the balance of 2012 uncertain.

Without a single IPO on the TSX, the total new capital raised on Canadian exchanges struggled to top $20 million from 13 new issues in the first quarter of 2012, according to a survey published by PwC. It is the third lowest total for any quarter in the past decade. Only the fourth quarter of 2008 ($2 million) and the first quarter of 2009 ($2.5 million) had lower total proceeds.

“The first quarter 2012 results were an extension of the low levels of activity in the final quarter of 2011 when markets were weighed down by the European debt crisis and extreme market volatility,” says Dean Braunsteiner, PwC national IPO services leader. A single $25 million issue on the TSX in the fourth quarter and a reduction in activity on the TSX Venture exchange generated just $52 million from 10 new issues on all Canadian exchanges in the final three months of 2011.

Mr. Braunsteiner adds, “The much hoped-for resolution of the debt crisis in Greece came too late to help the IPO market in the first quarter, and concerns over slowing growth in China have troubled commodity markets.  It’s not surprising the first quarter of 2012 looked a lot like the last quarter of 2011.”

First quarter 2012 IPO results were 10% of the same period of 2011, when 13 new issues, including two on the TSX, generated more than $198 million.

The resolution of the crisis in Greece would normally help the market regain optimism and dampen volatility, Braunsteiner says, but predicting the IPO market for the balance of the year isn’t any easier.

“There is still a great deal of corporate activity in areas like mergers and acquisitions, and some of that is taking the place of IPO activity,” Braunsteiner explains. “Larger public companies with ample cash are now in a position to grow through acquisition, and some of the companies that are being acquired might have been candidates for an IPO in another environment.” 

The annual PwC global mining M&A report revealed that 2011 was the second busiest year of M&A activity in history; and it is anticipated 2012 will be another record year of mining M&A activity, with a variety of financial and vertical buyers.

Technology is one sector Braunsteiner will be watching carefully. “Canada has traditionally relied on natural resource companies to feed the IPO market and that was the case in 2011. But the coming Facebook IPO is bound to ignite interest in technology plays in Canada that have been ignored until recently.”

PwC has conducted its survey of the IPO market in Canada for more than 10 years. The reports are issued on a quarterly basis to provide information to the corporate sector, investors, the media and others that will help them put the market into better perspective. For the purposes of the survey, investment vehicles such as structured products are not considered IPOs because they do not represent new equity raised for operating companies.

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About PwC Canada

PwC Canada helps organizations and individuals create the value they’re looking for. More than 5,700 partners and staff in offices across the country are committed to delivering quality in assurance, tax, consulting and deals services. PwC Canada is a member of the PwC network of firms with close to 169,000 people in 158 countries. Find out more by visiting us at www.pwc.com/ca.

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