Unicorns provide confidence as global IPO slowdown continues

Singapore, 27 September 2018

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  • Global IPO activity dampened amid ongoing geopolitical and trade uncertainty
  • Americas builds momentum while Asia-Pacific and EMEIA cool
  • Technology, industrials and health care were the most active sectors in Q3 2018

Ongoing geopolitical uncertainties and trade issues continue to dampen investor enthusiasm, resulting in the number of IPOs in the first nine months of 2018 (YTD 2018) falling to 1,000 globally. This is an 18% decrease from YTD 2017, which saw the highest nine-month activity since YTD 2007. However, despite this slowdown, YTD 2018 activity remained above the 10-year average with global IPO markets raising US$145.1b, a 9% increase year-on-year.

Activity in Q3 2018 (302 IPOs and proceeds of US$47.1b) was 22% lower in deal volume and 9% higher by proceeds compared with Q3 2017. The technology, industrials and health care sectors were the most prolific producers of IPOs globally in YTD 2018, together accounting for 468 IPOs (47% of global IPO by deal numbers) and raising US$62.9b altogether (43% of global proceeds). Additionally, an increase in unicorn IPOs in Q3 2018 pushed YTD 2018 global IPO proceeds 9% above YTD 2017. These and other findings were published today in the EY quarterly report, Global IPO trends: Q3 2018.

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

“The third quarter has lived up to expectations as the quietest period of the year with the global IPO market feeling the full force of geopolitical tensions, trade issues between the US, EU and China and the looming exit of the UK from the European Union. However, if megadeals characterized the first half of 2018, the rising phenomenon of IPOs by unicorn companies is shaping up to drive the global IPO agenda through the second half of 2018, and we anticipate that 2018 global proceeds will surpass 2017 numbers as a result. Overall deal volumes in 2018, however, will likely be lower year-on-year than in 2017.”

Asia-Pacific and Asean experience a quiet quarter

Overall in Asia-Pacific, investor appetite for IPOs was sustained, with YTD 2018 proceeds up 16% on YTD 2017 despite IPO volumes falling 31%. Five of the ten most active exchanges by deal numbers and by proceeds in YTD 2018 were from the Asia-Pacific region.

In Asia-Pacific, Hong Kong was the leading story despite cooling activity in the region. Hong Kong’s IPO market experienced sharp spikes in Q3 2018 by both deal number and proceeds, with 18% of IPOs and 49% of global proceeds in Q3 2018. Three mega IPOs (of which two were unicorns) set a record for monthly IPO listings in July, making it this quarter’s most active stock exchange globally.

In Asean, IPO proceeds fell by 87% to hit US$452m although volume rose by 30% to reach 26 deals in Q3 2018, compared with Q3 2017. This has been primarily driven by small-cap listings – a trend that is expected to continue into Q4 2018.

The most active market in Asean for Q3 was the Indonesia Stock Exchange (IDX), which led by both deal numbers (16 IPOs) and proceeds (US$337m). IPO activity across the rest of Asean was relatively muted, with 3 IPOs each from Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand, and 1 IPO in Vietnam.

Max Loh, EY Asean and Singapore Managing Partner, Ernst & Young LLP, comments:

“In a normally quiet quarter for Asia-Pacific, the Hong Kong IPO market still shone with the positive impact of new listing regulations tempered by interest rate hikes and investors looking for interest rate-driven investments.

“There were no major developments in the Asean IPO markets in Q3 2018. IPO activity has been steady, driven mostly by entrepreneurial companies coming to market. Economic uncertainty, trade conflict and emerging market concerns continue to dampen activity in the region.”

Americas IPO momentum builds

Americas IPO activity remained strong in YTD 2018, with deal proceeds increasing 41% to US$50.1b and deal numbers rising by 27% to 195 IPOs. The US saw 47 IPOs in Q3 2018 raising US$11.9b, an increase of 150% by proceeds and 31% by volume compared with Q3 2017. Cross-border deals accounted for 31% (18 IPOs) of the Q3 2018 deals in the Americas, signaling increased confidence in the Americas exchanges.

EMEIA activity cools amid listing delays and geopolitical change

In EMEIA, deal volumes and proceeds were down substantially from Q3 2017. EMEIA’s Q3 2018 IPO activity was 48% and 85% lower, respectively than Q3 2017 in terms of number of deals and proceeds. EMEIA 2018 YTD activity was also down, with deal volume and proceeds falling 11% and 24%, respectively on 2017 YTD. However, the region ranks as the second largest and sustainable global IPO market by number of IPOs representing an increased share of 33%.

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Notes to Editors

About EY
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This news release has been issued by Ernst & Young LLP, a member of the global EY organization.

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EY is a leader in helping companies go public worldwide. With decades of experience, our global network is dedicated to serving market leaders and helping businesses evaluate the pros and cons of an initial public offering (IPO). We demystify the process by offering IPO readiness assessments, IPO preparation, project management and execution services, all of which help prepare you for life in the public spotlight. Our Global IPO Center of Excellence is a virtual hub, which provides access to our IPO knowledge, tools, thought leadership and contacts from around the world in one easy-to-use source. ey.com/ipo

About the data
The data presented in the Global IPO trends: Q3 2018 report and press release is from Dealogic and EY. Q3 2018 (i.e., July-September) and YTD 2018 (January-September) is based on priced IPOs as of 11 September 2018 and expected IPOs in September. Data is up to 12 September 2018, 6 a.m. UK time. All data contained in this document is sourced to Dealogic and EY unless otherwise noted.

EY - Unicorns provide confidence as global IPO slowdown continues
Source: Dealogic, EY

Appendix: January 2018 to June 2018 global IPOs by sector


Number of IPOs

Percentage of global IPOs

Proceeds (US$m)

Percentage of global capital raised

Consumer products and services





Consumer staples















Health care




















Media and entertainment





Real estate















Global total





Source: Dealogic, EY