The Initial Public Offerings Law Review: Editor's Preface

The onset of the covid-19 pandemic in March 2020 led to a significant slowdown of IPO activity globally in the first half of 2020, in particular in the United States and Europe. While IPO activity remained subdued in Europe in the second half of 2020, the United States witnessed a significant increase, making 2020 one of its strongest IPO years in a decade, despite the challenges related to the pandemic.

IPOs of special-purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) and 'de-SPAC' transactions continued to be one of the main drivers of IPO activity in the United States. There was, however, also a significant increase in traditional IPOs, especially from companies in the technology sector. IPO activity in the United States has remained strong since the beginning of 2021.

Towards the end of 2020, there was a noticeable shift in sentiment in favour of IPOs across the globe, in particular in Europe, driven mainly by beneficial equity capital markets conditions and outlook. This has resulted in a significant increase in IPO activity since the beginning of 2021, both in terms of volume and size, driven mainly by a significant increase in IPOs of companies in the technology and life sciences sectors. The pipeline for IPOs in key markets globally for the remainder of 2021 and 2022 is exceptionally strong.

Potential near-term headwinds to the IPO market include the increasing regulatory scrutiny relating to, and a slowdown in, investor appetite for SPAC IPOs, potential changes to monetary policies and new waves of the covid-19 pandemic.

There has also been a noticeable increase in cross-border listings, where IPO candidates decide to pursue a listing outside their home market, resulting in increased competition among stock exchanges. This trend is driven by a number of factors, including considerations regarding valuation, sector-related considerations and the large number of US-listed SPACs looking for targets abroad. It is, therefore, increasingly necessary to consider the listing and regulatory requirements of different stock exchanges, as well as IPO market practices in different jurisdictions.

This publication provides an overview of the main rules and regulations applying to IPOs in 16 different jurisdictions across the globe and offers great insights into local market practices.

I would like to thank each author for their contribution to the fifth edition of The Initial Public Offerings Law Review.

Marco Georg Carbonare
Linklaters LLP
August 2021

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