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IPO Market Just Really, Really Lousy

Published on April 1, 2009
by John Paczkowski

thesandhillroadTo hear tell from the National Venture Capital Association, the VC landscape is as burned out and desolate as the ashen vistas of Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road.” According to its latest data, not a single venture-backed company went public in the first quarter of 2009 or the one that preceded it. That’s the first time the association has ever recorded two consecutive quarters with no issues. Worse, six venture-backed IPOs were withdrawn from registration in Q1. “We predicted that the venture-backed IPO market was going to get worse before it was going to get better, and we were unfortunately correct,” said NVCA president Mark Heesen. “Today our concerns are not limited to the zero IPO issues but have now expanded to the shrinking pipeline of companies in registration. Once we begin to see a recovery, there won’t be many companies prepared to take advantage of it, effectively extending the lackluster market until the pipeline rebuilds.”

Until then, the market will have to make due with merger-and-acquisition deals, which themselves aren’t doing so well. There were just 68 M&As in the first quarter of 2009, the lowest number since 1999. And they generated just $3.2 billion–down 65 percent from a year ago. Seems acquiring companies are on the lookout for bargain-basement deals and there are unquestionably few to be had given the souring economy. “Acquiring companies are simply looking to be very aggressive buyers and frankly are looking for rock-bottom pricing because that’s what they should be doing in this kind of environment,” Jim Watson, managing general partner at CMEA Capital, told VentureWire. “If you’re a seller now it’s because you have to be a seller.”

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