A series of stock debuts led by Athens International Airport SA is set to inject momentum into Europe’s dormant listings market.
The initial public offerings together are set to raise more than $1.6 billion, in the first signs of activity after 2023 saw the lowest haul for European listings in at least a decade. Alongside Athens Airport, Cypriot defense company Theon International PLC, German military gearbox maker Renk GmbH and Kazakh airline Air Astana’s trading debuts will give a good indication of investor appetite as European stocks approach records.
The IPOs are well-timed. Geopolitical tensions have been boosting shares of European defense stocks, while travel and leisure is catching up after the pandemic slump. Yet, it’s not all rosy out there — Athens Airport’s pricing was at the top end of its range, raising about €785 million ($843 million), while Theon’s was at the bottom.
“The market is increasingly patchy,” said Evgenia Molotova, senior investment manager at Pictet Asset Management. She noted that while “Athens airport should be positively correlated with the revival in euro tourism,” Renault SA pulled its electric-vehicle unit Ampere’s proposed IPO “because of the more negative sentiment around EV demand.”
Athens Airport will be Greece’s biggest IPO in more than two decades, while Theon will be the first new listing in Amsterdam in over a year. Renk is set to begin trading Wednesday after its shareholder Triton sells shares via an IPO, having expanded the offering to €500 million. The last big IPO in Europe was that of Schott Pharma AG & Co. KGaA in September, a deal which raised €935 million and was Germany’s biggest of 2023.
Companies only raised about $14 billion via IPOs on European exchanges last year, a 35% drop from the almost $22 billion raised in 2022, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The haul in 2023 was the lowest for the market in at least a decade and just a sliver of the $90 billion-plus raised in 2021.
“The pendulum is swinging again to find cheaper sources of capital,” said Emmanuel Valavanis, who has a senior equity sales role at Mirabaud Securities. “If you’re a heavily asset-based business, it makes sense to use your asset base to raise equity and reduce debt. The trouble is, will equity investors go for such deals?”
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