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Corporate finance 26 Dec 2018

7 key steps to a successful IPO

Going public is an option that many businesses start considering after reaching a certain stage in their development, whether to access funding from capital markets and drive their growth strategy, or to offer the opportunity to its private shareholders to obtain liquidity, crystalize the value of their shares and diversify their asset portfolio. But, what factors determine the success of an IPO?

Without a doubt, the chances of success of a company’s IPO largely depend on the appeal of the investment proposal represented by the company, its equity story. In other words, the company has to offer a proposition that’s capable of attracting potential investors.

However, there are other factors that can largely contribute to the success – if properly designed and chosen – or failure of the process. The most significant challenges to ensure the success of the transaction are the following:

1. Defining an attractive ‘equity story’. Identifying and highlighting the company’s strengths and opportunities, as well as the mitigating factors to the risks or threats facing the company’s business model. The idea is to build a convincing narrative that conveys, in the clearest and simplest way possible, the attractive investment proposition embodied by the company.

2. Design an adequate price discovery process, to determine the right price of the shares, i.e. the price at which investors are willing to buy and the issuer to sell the shares. For this, it is important to:

  • Adequately position the company going public with respect to other publicly listed companies in the same sector, or which share similar characteristics. The goal is to provide investors with valid references on which to build their analysis.
  • Preparing a comprehensive analyst presentation that clearly sets out the company’s business strategy, offering the broadest amount of information to support its credibility.
  • Designing an ample ‘education’ plan for investors and subsequently collecting, analyzing and understanding the feedback provided by those willing to invest.
  • Optimizing the reach of the roadshow, where company executives visit and help potential investors with any doubts they might harbor at the time of making the decision to invest.

3. Adjusting the offering size and structure to ensure the achievement of the company’s goals and the execution of its business plan. At the same time it is important to provide shares with sufficient liquidity once they start trading in the market.

4. Choosing the right market timing. Deciding on the best window of opportunity taking into account market trends, potential threats, and competing transactions, and of course, the issuer’s own strategy and needs.

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The chances of success of a company’s IPO largely depend on the appeal of the investment proposal represented by the company, its equity story.

5. Defining the principles on which to build the company’s shareholder base. This is the only occasion on which the company can choose who it wants as a partner in its capital. For this same reason, it will have to decide on how to allocate the offer’s shares. The goal is to build a long-term oriented and stable shareholder base, as well as to ensure that the shares will have sufficient depth and breadth once they start trading.

6. Surround itself with the adequate travel companions, including legal and accounting firms that help in the preparation of the financial statements and the Prospectus. It is essential to also to secure the support of a committed and experienced syndicate of banks, acting as book-runners and co-leads, which have a profound knowledge of the institutional investors committed to the operation.

7. Finally, the company must always keep in mind that the IPO is not an end in itself, but the start of a new life as a publicly listed company. Once it goes public, the company’s success will be measured based on its ability to meet its commitment with investors, both regarding the execution of its business plan, and in the treatment of minority shareholders. That is why it is important to, on the one hand, ensure that corporate governance bodies work properly according the market’s strictest standards; and, on the other, to set up an investor relations function with investors that allows them to stay informed, promotes the independent analysis of the company and favors the share’s liquidity.

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