Boosted by huge demand for technology and sustainability stocks, as well as a frenzied rush from blank-check SPAC companies, the volume of IPOs in the US doubled to 494 – raising a collective $174 billion. Now, with the news of payments giants Stripe intending to go public, we may see the biggest initial public offering yet.
According to FactSet, high profile IPOs from Snowflake, Airbnb and Rocket Companies were well received by investors, contributing to 150% year-on-year growth for money raised through offerings.
However, one company that’s seemingly been at the centre of speculation throughout 2020 without pulling the trigger on an IPO was Stripe. In August last year, Stripe sparked a furore when the company announced that it had recruited CFO Dhivya Suryadevara from General Motors to assume the same role at the startup. At the time, it was anticipated that the company was in the final stages of preparing to go public. But instead, the company opted to raise an additional $600 million in new equity from private investors at a seismic valuation of $95 billion.
At a valuation of $95bn, Stripe has become the most valuable US startup, pushing past huge industry players like Elon Musk’s SpaceX and grocery delivery service Instacart. However, the latest fundraising effort could lead the company to the biggest IPO ever.
Entering The IPO Frenzy
Stripe’s push towards an IPO comes at a time when a global IPO frenzy is in full swing. At the end of Q1 in 2021, global dealmaking stood at $1.4 trillion thanks to blank-check SPACs and newfound excitement for tech initial public offerings.
These figures represent a 103% increase in the same period last year, and a faster start to a year in over two decades – according to preliminary data from Dealogic. There’s no sign of the furore simmering down, either.
One of the key reasons behind such astronomical figures stems from the boom in special-purpose acquisition companies (SPACs), which offer private companies a faster route into public markets. SPACs have helped to push equity capital market fees up by almost 340% compared to the same period in 2020 to a total of $13.1 billion – more than double the revenues in any first quarter over the past 20 years.
As the data above shows, IPO proceeds already soared to levels that haven’t been seen since the financial crisis of 2008 by the end of last year. Driven largely by unprecedented volumes of SPACs entering the market, more businesses feel emboldened to embrace the huge boom in IPO popularity.
Will Stripe Become the World’s Biggest IPO?
So, will Stripe use the current investment landscape to launch the biggest IPO ever? There are a few things to consider before we can gain a clearer idea of just how seismic the company’s arrival on the New York Stock Exchange will be. Firstly, it’s important to note that these metrics are largely determined by total deal size, rather than the company’s market capitalization. The current biggest IPO belongs to that of Saudi Aramco, which raised $29.4 billion through a home-country listing. Meanwhile, the biggest US-based initial public offering was the 2014 debut of Alibaba, which ultimately raised a total of $25 billion.
Weighing in with a $95 billion valuation means that Stripe has the potential for a huge IPO, but it remains to be seen that the company will beat the aforementioned records at its current valuation. Companies typically avoid releasing too many shares during an IPO as they can pursue follow-on offerings for insiders once the lockup period is over – which tends to be around 90 to 180 days after the initial public offering date.
Although holding the record for the largest IPO will no doubt hold plenty of appeal for the company, it’s unlikely that Stripe would willingly sell almost one-third of its shares for the sake of beating the existing stock market record – but this doesn’t mean that the company should be discounted. Stripe appears to be investing on a global scale and is producing results that have captured the imagination of institutional investors that have been willing to pay way over the odds for admission just one year on from the company’s last fundraising effort. With palpable excitement for both Stripe and the IPO market as a whole, all bets are off when it comes to anticipating the sheer scale of the upcoming floatation.
Buying Stripe’s IPO
With speculation rife about the ultimate size of Stripe’s IPO, many retail investors will likely find the notion of investing in the payments company a tantalizing one to say the least. However, the process of investing in initial public offerings can be tricky for individuals to buy into. This is because many companies choose to sell their shares to institutional investors who are capable of buying huge volumes of their IPO in one single transaction.
Maxim Manturov, Head of Investment Research at Freedom Finance Europe, says that: “Historically, institutional investors get around 90% of all shares, with only around 10% left for retail trades. This is where allocation comes from: when the demand is high, the broker will have to reduce order amounts so as to at least partially fill all of them. The allocation ratio, meanwhile, depends on the investor trading activity and volume.”
That said, there’s still a way for the general public to participate in IPOs – there’re online brokers that allow retail investors to take part in IPOs. However, there’s generally a vetting process to go through and a financial threshold to meet.
However, retail investors can still get in on the action when trading eventually begins on the New York Stock Exchange. In an IPO landscape that’s filled with huge levels of investor confidence, we may yet see Stripe’s initial public offering break plenty of records upon its arrival.