Press release

30 Mar 2020 Singapore, SG

COVID-19 pandemic cuts global IPO momentum short in Q1 2020

SINGAPORE, 30 MARCH 2020. Despite initially riding momentum carried from Q4 2019, hopes for an IPO window of opportunity and rebound in the first half of 2020 were cut short by the global impact of COVID-19 (coronavirus disease of 2019).

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Related topics Growth IPO
  • Despite COVID-19 concerns, Q1 deals and proceeds rose year-over-year
  • Asia-Pacific IPO markets maintain strong start; Southeast Asia saw significant jump in volume and proceeds
  • IPO landscape will likely remain sluggish through Q2, looking to rebound in H2

Despite initially riding momentum carried from Q4 2019, hopes for an IPO window of opportunity and rebound in the first half of 2020 were cut short by the global impact of COVID-19 (coronavirus disease of 2019). This led to 235 deals and US$28.5b in proceeds through the first three months of 2020 (YTD 2020). Despite the equity markets not being as bullish as expected, IPOs in Q1 2020 performed better than Q1 2019, seeing 11% and 89% increases in the number of deals and proceeds respectively, albeit from a relatively low base in 2019.

The quarter represented two extremes: an active January and February ending in a close-to-standstill March. Asia-Pacific (160 deals raising US$16.8b in proceeds) and the Americas (40 IPOs raising US$8.2b in proceeds) ended Q1 2020 ahead compared with Q1 2019 by both deal number and proceeds, while EMEIA (35 IPOs raising US$3.5b in proceeds) slowed by deal number. The industrials sector dominated in Q1 2020 with 45 IPOs raising US$6.3b. By deal numbers, technology (40 deals) and health care (30 deals) were also active YTD 2020. These and other findings were published today in the EY quarterly report, Global IPO trends: Q1 2020.

Paul Go, EY Global IPO Leader, says:
“Riding the strong tailwinds from Q4 2019, the global IPO markets started off strongly in the first two months of 2020. However, the unexpected and novel events surrounding COVID-19 took a toll on the global health of equity markets and, together with other global market factors, have caused market turbulence last seen only during the global financial crisis of 2008. This extreme market volatility makes any ambitions to go public highly uncertain, both in terms of timing and valuation.” 

Asia-Pacific IPO markets maintain strong start

Asia-Pacific prevailed with 160 IPOs and US$16.8b in proceeds in Q1 2020, a 28% and 110% increase compared with Q1 2019, respectively, and these accounted for 68% of the global deal numbers and 59% by proceeds.

In Greater China, IPO activity in Hong Kong was more negatively impacted than within the Mainland China exchanges. Combined, Greater China deal numbers increased 34% (90 deals) while proceeds increased by 104% (US$13.2b) compared to Q1 2019.

Japanese exchanges also continued to flex throughout the quarter with 28 deals and US$592m in proceeds, representing a 22% increase in deals but a 21% fall in proceeds compared to Q1 2019.

Across Southeast Asia, IPO activity continued Q4 2019’s momentum. In Q1 2020, there were 31 IPOs raising US$3b, representing a 63% increase in deal volume and 885% in proceeds compared to Q1 2019. The significant jump in proceeds is mainly due to the listing of Central Retail Corp., which was the largest IPO ever on the Stock Exchange of Thailand. In deal numbers, Indonesia led with 18 IPOs, followed by Malaysia (6 IPOs), Singapore (5 IPOs) and Thailand (2 IPOs). Exchanges in Thailand (SET and MAI) and Singapore (SGX and Catalist), which raised US$2.3b and US$0.5b respectively in the quarter, are among the top 12 exchanges globally by proceeds.

Max Loh, EY Asean IPO Leader, says:

“In the early part of the quarter, IPO activity from 4Q 2019 carried over with deals across various markets in Southeast Asia. This has been somewhat put paid by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has devastated economies, businesses and communities the world over.  Economic and fiscal packages are being put together to stabilize economies. These and other effects on market volatility and investor confidence will be the key metrics in determining IPO momentum.”

Americas deal landscape shows continued IPO appetite

The Americas saw a 47% increase in proceeds (US$8.2b) and a 14% increase in deals (40 IPOs) compared with Q1 2019. US exchanges accounted for the majority of Americas IPO activity with 60% by deal numbers (24 IPOs) and 89% by proceeds (US$7.3b) in Q1 2020. There were seven cross-border IPOs in Q1 2020, where China was the top country of origin with six deals.

The Toronto Stock Exchange and TSX Venture Exchange saw three IPOs raising US$7m in total proceeds. Meanwhile, Brazil’s B3 market saw four IPOs raising US$785m in proceeds.

Jackie Kelley, EY Americas IPO Leader, says:

“IPO activity across the Americas saw a rise in Q1 2020 by volumes and proceeds compared with Q1 2019. While COVID-19 and oil tensions have largely dried up IPO activity for now, IPO preparation continues and the IPO pipeline is growing, as issuers look for opportunities to be prepared for calmer and more conducive markets.”

Despite EMEIA deal slowdown, the region delivers in proceeds raised

Through Q1 2019 EMEIA saw 35 IPOs and US$3.5b in proceeds. While deal numbers were down 31%, proceeds skyrocketed 133% YOY. This is partly explained by India’s Financials IPO, SBI Cards & Payments Services Ltd, which raised US$1.4b in proceeds. EMEIA continued to account for three of the top ten exchanges globally by proceeds in Q1 2020; the region accounted for one of the top 10 exchanges by deal number.

Dr. Martin Steinbach, EY EMEIA IPO Leader, says:

“In a historically slow first quarter, COVID-19 has impacted capital markets sentiment, as EMEIA is more exposed to any impacts to cross-border supply chains. Combined with record levels of market volatility, IPOs were postponed which lowered IPO activity in Q1 2020. We see IPO candidates even more challenged to determine the right timing and pursue the right de-risking IPO strategies that provide access to funding for further growth. With central banks and governments in a ‘whatever-it-takes’ mode we expect IPO activity to pick up in H2 2020.”

2020 outlook: the chilling effect will impact markets for foreseeable future

Given the COVID-19 outbreak and its negative impact on global economic activities, IPO markets are not expected to quickly rebound in Q2 2020. However, while Q3 is typically a slower time of the year, there may be increased IPO activity as the market attempts a reset and the global pipeline looks for the next IPO window.


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About the data

The data presented in the Global IPO trends: Q1 2020 report and press release is from Dealogic and EY. Q1 2020 (i.e., January-March) is based on priced IPOs as of 17 March 2020 and expected IPOs in March 2020. Data is up to 18 March 2020, 9 a.m. UK time. All data contained in this document is sourced from Dealogic, CB Insights, Crunchbase and EY unless otherwise noted.

2011 - Q1 2020 global IPO activity


Number of IPOs

Proceeds (US$b)

January 2018



February 2018



March 2018



January 2019



February 2019



March 2019



January 2020



February 2020



March 2020



Appendix: Q1 2020 global IPOs by sector


Number of IPOs

Percentage of global IPOs

Proceeds (US$b)

Percentage of global capital raised

Consumer products and services





Consumer staples















Health care




















Media and entertainment





Real estate















Global total





Source: Dealogic, EY

Figures may not total 100% due to rounding.