Dealmaking in global equity capital markets had its strongest start in three years in 2024 as economic uncertainty waned and stocks rallied, but a revival in initial public offerings has lagged.

Bankers carried out $143.9 billion of stock sales worldwide so far this year, the best first quarter since 2021, according to Dealogic data.

However, IPO volumes were flat on the same period last year and less than half the levels seen in early 2022, with $22.4 billion raised in the first quarter so far.

With interest rate cuts forecast, bankers and investors expect more stock listings in the months ahead, building on the success of earlier deals.

“The U.S. has had a reasonably strong start, Europe feels like it’s coming back, and the Middle East will continue to be busy, especially after Eid,” said Edward Sankey, global head of equity capital markets at HSBC.

Shares in social media platform Reddit and technology group Astera Labs soared after making their debut in New York last week, tapping into investor enthusiasm for artificial intelligence. Swiss skincare group Galderma, Europe’s largest IPO since Porsche in September 2022, had a stellar start, trading 18% above its issue price on its first day. Not all new stocks have had the same warm welcome. The newly listed shares of German perfume retailer Douglas plunged on their debut last week.

While investors are happy to pay up for large, attractive companies, mid-cap firms like Douglas are finding it harder to go public, according to a Europe-based fund manager, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Investors need to have some success stories before putting much more money to work.

“We need to see this cohort of deals perform, and we need consistency of investor returns in the next tranche of subsequent transactions before the IPO market fully reopens,” said Tom Swerling, global ECM head at Barclays.


Despite the setback, bankers are confident that more deals will get done this year, with the U.S. election making for a narrower IPO window in the second half.

“There are a handful of quality IPOs expected post-Easter and we’d expect those to go well,” said Martin Thorneycroft, head of cash ECM at Morgan Stanley for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Buyout firm CVC Capital Partners and Italian luxury brand Golden Goose are among those preparing to go public as soon as next quarter.

U.S. cybersecurity software start-up Rubrik is also planning to launch an IPO as early as next month, sources previously told Reuters.

Sales of publicly traded shares will continue to account for a large chunk of activity in the coming months, with companies and shareholders taking advantage of high stock prices, bankers said.

So far this year they have raised $97.4 billion by selling stakes in firms like Sensodyne-maker Haleon, soft drink group Keurig Dr Pepper and London Stock Exchange Group .

One of the most awaited deals is the sale of further shares in Saudi Arabia’s oil giant Aramco, which sources said could boost the country’s finances and its aim to diversify the economy away from oil.

European countries such Germany, Greece and Italy have also been turning to block trades to dispose of holdings in banks and utilities, with more expected to keep bankers busy while the IPO market gets back on its feet.


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