Where Have All the IPOs Gone? To These Law Firms

Photo Jason Alden/Bloomberg

As of late it’s been a fairly quiet time for IPOs. Fewer companies went public in 2015 than any time since 2009, Inc. Magazine reported in December, citing research company Renaissance Capital.

Has it really been two years since Alibaba Group’s massive public offering?

“I think people are uncertain about valuation and also the geopolitical changes in the world,” said Phyllis Korff, a lawyer with Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, who is advising on the IPO of stock exchange operator Bats Global, scheduled to price tomorrow.

“A lot of people are taking a wait-and-see attitude and waiting for a little more stability,” said Korff. “Nobody knows which way the winds are blowing.”

Although Korff declined to comment on the Bats Global IPO, the deal is being discussed in the finance and corporate legal communities. According to an April 6 report from Bloomberg News:

“Bats and a number of shareholders are selling 11.2 million shares for $17 to $19 each, according to its deal prospectus. At the high end of that range, the company would have a market value of $1.8 billion — or more than double the $760 million the exchange operator was valued at in 2012, when it aborted its first IPO attempt. Bats’s offering could raise as much as $212.8 million.”

The mini-splash of positive news for IPOs will benefit two law firms in particular: Skadden is representing the underwriters, while Davis Polk & Wardwell is representing Bats, according to the S-1 filing.

“Hopefully it will be a good omen for the rest (of the IPO market),” said Korff.

Richard Truesdell, co-head of Davis Polk’s capital markets practice, said that there already seems to be some momentum picking up, although it’s slow going.

“It takes a while to restore confidence in deals to price well, and trade well, to get back into the markets,” said Truesdell. “It’s not a binary, flip-the-switch and suddenly we’re back to a boom period of IPOs.”

In the meantime, the Bloomberg Law Corporate Transactions team pulled up a report on the law firms that have advised on the most IPOs listed on U.S. stock exchanges in recent years, below:

Underwriter Counsel: 

For Q1 of 2016 — Davis Polk & Wardwell (3)

2015 — Latham & Watkins (35)

2014 — Latham & Watkins (55)

2013 — Davis Polk & Wardwell (32)

2012 — Davis Polk & Wardwell (20)

Issuer Counsel:

For Q1 of 2016 — Cooley (2) and Goodwin Procter (2)

2015 — Goodwin Procter (16)

2014 — Cooley (28)

2013 — Latham & Watkins (20)

2012 — Skadden (11)

Deal analyst Yelena Dunaevsky pulled the data from the Bloomberg Terminal at Bloomberg LP, which is limited to all IPOs that priced and began trading on U.S. stock exchanges during the time periods indicated.