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Brazil braced for IPO spree this year after bumper 2020

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Brazil’s stock market is gearing up for another rush of flotations in 2021, after an army of new investors helped spur the strongest year for initial public offerings in more than a decade.

An iron ore miner, a crematorium operator and an online furniture seller are among a list of 41 companies that have announced their intention to debut on São Paulo’s B3 exchange, which in spite of the Covid-19 pandemic chalked up 28 IPOs last year — the biggest number since 2007’s all-time record of 64.

“It could turn out to be more active than 2020,” said Roderick Greenlees, global head of investment banking at Itaú BBA. He expects between 30 to 40 listings this year, as part of a wider rush for equity capital markets deals that he says is “potentially our biggest pipeline ever”.

Overall, companies that went public on B3 last year reaped R$43.7bn ($8.3bn), more than four times the previous annual figure, according to exchange data. Taken together with follow-on share issuances, the total amount of equity raised exceeded R$100bn for the first time in 10 years. Globally, IPO proceeds were up by about a quarter, according to data from Refinitiv. 

The share-sale bonanza is predicted to continue despite the economic disruption caused by Covid-19 to Latin America’s largest economy. The country is in the throes of a second wave of the virus, but vaccines are finally being rolled out after delays.

Rush of flotations in Brazil set to continue in 2021

One factor behind the boom in businesses tapping the bourse are Brazil’s historically low interest rates, which have pushed savers out of deposit accounts and into stocks and riskier assets in the hope of higher returns. 

The number of retail investors on the B3 stock exchange almost doubled to 3.2m in 2020, reflecting a wider global trend of everyday people playing the market.

Rogério Santana, head of client relationships at B3, said this was distinct from previous capital market cycles in the country and coincided with enterprises looking to diversify their sources of funding. “A larger presence of local investors brings more solidity and consistency” to the Brazilian stock market, he added. 

Foreign investors have also rushed to buy Brazilian stocks, as shown by strong inflows of foreign capital in the past couple of months, cited by Bank of America analysts. This has been encouraged by a weakened exchange rate making assets in the country cheaper: the real fell more than 20 per cent against the dollar last year. 

Although the benchmark Bovespa index recovered from the market crisis of last March to finish 2020 slightly up, in local currency terms, it was lower in dollar terms. And analysts are sanguine on market valuations, despite the investor fervour.

“Today the [valuation] multiples in Brazil are not dislocated from the historic average, so I don’t think there’s any bubble,” said Tiago Reis, founder of Suno Research. 

Transactions in the pipeline include steelmaker CSN’s iron ore unit and Tok & Stok, a furniture chain backed by private equity group Carlyle. 

Pablo Riveroll, head of Latin American equities at London-based asset manager Schroders, said Brazilian businesses in the “new economy” were proving particularly attractive to overseas investors.

“There’s been a group of companies that are within the technology, IT and fintech space that have received a huge amount of interest from foreigners, and so have companies associated with renewable energy.”



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Darktrace/UK IPOs: shoes for every occasion

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Unpredictable nature of listing process means ‘greenshoes’ will remain required footwear



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Global IPOs begin 2021 at breakneck pace

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Listings on stock markets around the world are running at a record pace, with both deal numbers and values at their highest levels for the start of any year in at least two decades.

This year, 875 initial public offerings each raising at least $1m have been clinched globally, according to data from Dealogic that cover the last 26 years. That figure far outstrips the previous record set in the final months of the dotcom boom in 2000, when 592 companies raised $1m or more in floats over the same time period.

The deluge of listings has lifted IPO proceeds to a record-setting $230bn this year, well above the previous peak of $80bn set in 2000.

The boom stems largely from a spree of flotations of shell companies known as special purpose acquisition companies, or Spacs, which have accounted for almost half of the fundraising haul through IPOs in 2021. Spacs have no underlying business and instead raise capital to pursue a merger with a privately held business.

But the rise in IPOs also reflects enduring demand for global listings in a year when markets have rallied to new highs, with marquee names such as South Korean ecommerce company Coupang and US dating app Bumble making public debuts.

Globally, proceeds from IPOs in 2021 have already surpassed the full-year totals for 21 of the past 26 years.

Column chart of Number of IPOs, by type showing The number of companies going public has ballooned

“The numbers are encouraging because they’re evidence that people have renewed confidence that public markets are a good way to exit their business,” said Carlton Nelson, co-head of corporate broking at Investec. “It shows that they don’t have to tap into private capital despite it being easier and more efficient than it has been for a long time.”

The listings have been heavily tilted to the US, where Spacs had flourished before running into trouble in recent weeks. Roughly two-thirds of the $230bn of capital raised this year has been through listings in the country. China and Hong Kong have trailed in distant second and third places as the preferred choice for new listings, accounting for 8 per cent and 5 per cent of IPO proceeds, respectively.

Column chart of Global initial public offering proceeds ($bn) showing Companies and Spacs have raised $230bn through IPOs in 2021

Among the big debuts already this year have been SoftBank-backed Coupang, which along with selling shareholders raised $4.6bn, and TikTok’s video-sharing rival Kuaishou, which raised $6.2bn in its Hong Kong listing. Food delivery app Deliveroo also made headlines with its London IPO, which raised $2bn for the company and early backers but was ultimately panned by new investors.

Other large listings are already in the queue, including entertainment group Endeavor, Jessica Alba’s consumer goods business Honest Co and stock trading app Robinhood.

The data do not include direct listings, where companies decline to raise capital when they go public, meaning cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase’s blockbuster debut on the Nasdaq earlier this month is not counted in the figures.

Chris Nicholls, who leads Deloitte’s UK IPO and equity advisory team, said he believed the rest of the year looked promising for a spate of new listings.

“As you see economies emerging from lockdown, there should be a period of strong [economic] growth, which bodes well for this wave continuing for a while longer,” he added.

A key question is how much air will come out of the Spac phenomenon, which ballooned in popularity last year but has “slowed meaningfully” in recent weeks, according to strategists with Goldman Sachs.

Bar chart of Cash raised through initial public offerings, by company nationality ($bn) showing Roughly two-thirds of IPO proceeds have been raised in the US

Staff of the Securities and Exchange Commission earlier this month promised closer scrutiny of the revenue and profit projections from companies that use the vehicles to go public, and the number of new Spac listings has plummeted.

Still, the global economic reopening after the coronavirus pandemic is likely to prompt companies to pursue flotations, Investec’s Nelson said.

“IPOs have a long gestation period, it’s not just when the starting gun has been fired,” he added. “It’s really encouraging to see companies of all shapes and sizes starting those conversations now, even if it’s for a few years’ time in the future.”



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Pepco and Poundland chains target multibillion valuation in IPO

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South African conglomerate Steinhoff is set to raise up to 4.6bn zlotys ($1bn) when it lists its Pepco chain of discount retailers in Warsaw this month in the latest in a series of asset sales.

Pepco, which operates about 3,200 stores in countries including Poland, Romania and Hungary, as well as Poundland in the UK, said on Wednesday that shares in the offering would be priced between 38 zlotys and 46 zlotys.

In total, Steinhoff and members of Pepco’s management team will sell 102.7m shares or 17.9 per cent of Pepco to the public, valuing the company at between 21.9bn zlotys and 26.5bn zlotys. The final price will be set on May 14, and trading will begin on May 26.

A portion of shares will also be placed directly with some of Steinhoff’s lenders, following an earlier agreement between the conglomerate and its creditors.

Andy Bond, the former Asda chief executive who now runs Pepco, intends to sell more than 1m shares in the IPO, worth roughly €9.7m at the midpoint of the price range, though he will be subject to a lock-up period until the end of 2023 thereafter.

Bond said the company planned to open a further 8,000 stores “over the longer term”, but would also keep “a clear focus on costs and delivering additional efficiencies as we grow”.

Pepco’s listing is likely to be one of the biggest this year on the Warsaw exchange, which has seen a flurry of activity since Poland’s dominant ecommerce platform Allegro raised 9.2bn zlotys last year in the country’s largest initial public offering

Steinhoff will initially retain a stake of about 82 per cent, but the group is looking to sell assets to reduce debt after an accounting scandal in 2017. 

It has already sold Bensons for Beds, another UK retailer, to private equity group Alteri, and has an option to sell a further 15.4m shares in Pepco in the offering if investors show sufficient interest. Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan are advising on the IPO.

Pepco’s business heartland is in central Europe, but the group is planning to expand elsewhere on the continent, such as Spain, and is targeting earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of more than €1bn within the next “five to seven years”.

In the year to the end of September, it reported sales of €3.5bn and underlying ebitda of €229m. Ebitda was almost a third lower than in the previous 12 months, as the pandemic forced stores to close across Europe.

Like many other discount retailers, Pepco does not trade online, as the small size of the purchases typically made by its customers makes the economics of ecommerce difficult.

The group said last week that sales had risen 4.4 per cent in the six months to the end of March, thanks to the opening of more than 200 new stores. However, on a like-for-like basis, sales were down 2.1 per cent.



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