After a record 2021 for equity markets and IPOs, 2022 started with more concerns over IPO pricing and over the potential impact of renewed inflationary risks to the global economy and to corporate prospects. Even though the impact of the Omicron variant was milder and more short-lived than anticipated, higher volatility and more challenging markets for IPO’s existed even before the war in Ukraine which, inevitably, materially stalled IPO activity in many markets (with notable exceptions in China and the Middle East).
Volatility levels have returned to those experienced in 2020 in the midst of the global pandemic with global indices ending the first quarter lower than December 2021.
Whilst Q1 2022 global IPO proceeds of $56.1bn was notably higher than the pre pandemic five year average ($32.3bn), the global geopolitical and economic outlook has had a significant impact on EMEA and Americas IPO activity in the quarter. The Asia-Pacific region has been more robust, with the region achieving IPO proceeds of $34.2bn, 61% of total Q1 2022 global IPO proceeds. Transactions included:
Q1 2021 saw the strongest first quarter for global IPO activity in recent history, to a large extent reflecting suppressed IPO activity in 2020 due to the Covid pandemic.
Q1 2022 IPO proceeds in the Asia-Pacific region were broadly in-line with Q1 2021 countering the trend elsewhere, mainly due to China issuance. Technology and Consumer Discretionary sectors accounted for more than half of the total proceeds.
Whilst IPO proceeds in the EMEA region were notably higher than the first quarter of 2019 and 2020, largely driven by the Middle East, there was a $20.0bn (71%) decline on Q1 2021. IPO issuance was building momentum in January and February across EMEA. However, this came to an abrupt end in early March with the exception of Saudi Arabia, where four IPOs raised $1.9bn representing the vast majority of March 2022 EMEA IPO proceeds of $2.3bn.
The Americas IPO market was also building momentum in January and February with $12.4bn raised in the first two months of the quarter, whereas March IPO proceeds were $1.5bn. $10.0bn (72%) of the total Americas IPO proceeds ($13.9bn) were attributable to SPACs. This compares with $96.0bn (63%) in Q1 2021.
Q1 2022 was the first quarter in recent years where China IPO proceeds were higher than the US; 77 IPOs raised $18.2bn (Q1 2021: 116 IPOs / $12.6bn). The average IPO size was $0.2bn.
US IPOs raised $13.9bn in proceeds this quarter, $10.0bn of which were SPAC IPOs (see overleaf for further analysis of SPAC IPOs).
South Korea’s largest IPO on record raised $10.7bn in January. This was also the largest global IPO of the quarter.
There were 13 IPOs in Saudi Arabia in Q1 2022 with total proceeds of $3.6bn (Q1 2021: 2 IPOs / $0.3bn), including $1.4bn raised by a Saudi pharmacy chain.
Hong Kong SAR IPO activity was subdued in Q1 2022, 12 IPOs raised $1.3bn (Q1 2021: 27 IPOs / $10.9bn) representing the worst quarter since 2009.
The UK was not in the top 10 countries in terms of IPO proceeds with only 10 IPOs raising total proceeds of $0.5bn, a considerable decline on Q1 2021 where 21 IPOs raised $8.3bn.
In Q1 2021, SPAC IPOs represented 42% of global IPOs. In Q1 2022 the proportion dropped to 22%. In the Americas region, which still accounted for the majority of SPACs, SPAC IPOs and SPAC merger announcements slowed down markedly as they face increased challenges due to declining investor sentiment combined with relatively poor post-merger price performance. They also must contend with proposed new SEC regulations announced at the end of the first quarter.
55 of all global SPAC IPOs (64) took place in the Americas. Outside of the Americas:
Globally, over 600 SPACs are still searching for acquisition targets and in excess of $200bn of capital has been raised by SPACs in recent years. This represents a significant potential deal pipeline as these SPACs look for opportunities to de-SPAC within their 2-year life.
2021 saw a significant proportion of IPO's underperforming global indices, with some regional variation. In part this reflected strong issuance in H1 at a point when markets were buoyant and valuations high.
One quarter’s data for 2022 provides limited insight and we will monitor this through the remainder of 2022. However, regional variations appear to be less prominent so far with the level outperformance perhaps reflecting more conservative IPO pricing.
Predicting a timescale for the return of appetite for IPOs is challenging at this point. Significant investor liquidity remains, but inflationary risks remain a heightened concern and market volatility is a significant impediment to pricing an IPO. The war in Ukraine will weigh heavily on sentiment until there is a clearer path for resolution.
Having said this, we do see preparations underway for some significant assets in order to be ready to take advantage of a market window if one opens and the backlog of IPOs could lead to a strong upswing in volumes if volatility does moderate.
ESG continues to gain increasing focus from equity investors and will be a critical factor in their investment decisions. Regulators are beginning to catch up and in March 2022 the SEC proposed rule amendments that would require public companies to include certain climate-related information in their registration statements and periodic reports.
Given all of these factors, we would expect a heightened focus on risk management, corporate and market resilience.