Omicron Threatens to Spoil IPO Coming-Out Parties

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The spread of Covid-19 variants is throwing a wrench in stock debut timing for early 2022

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The New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq Stock Market are still allowing some personal bells to ring, a highly coveted—and sometimes contested—event. But in late December, the NYSE raised the bar for its guests, mandating that they be vaccinated now and submit a negative COVID-19 test 24 hours before their scheduled visit. In the past, unvaccinated guests could go to the NYSE as long as they submitted a negative test.

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In December, Nasdaq also tightened its guest policy, and changed its negative test requirement from 48 hours to the first 24 hours. All guests will still need to show proof of vaccination.

Many companies and banks are also returning to remote work. However, unlike spring 2020, exchanges, bankers and traders are all set to launch IPOs remotely. Companies’ roadshow pitch to investors on computer screens instead of in conference rooms is now the norm. Traders are also comfortable opening stocks from their kitchen counter instead of the trading floor.

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Private-equity firm TPG, which is the biggest IPO on the (virtual) road right now, was originally hoping for an in-person celebration for its IPO. But those plans changed as soon as the infectious Omicron version of the coronavirus shook the country. It is set to bring on a small group of executives to ring the bell when it goes public on Nasdaq next week, but according to people familiar with the matter, the plans are still flexible.

Executives at Los Angeles-based online banking app Dave Inc. planned to travel to New York last Thursday for a big celebration around its stock-market debut, but had to pivot after seeing a rapidly rising Covid-19 infection rate. made.

Chief executive Jason Wilk said, “The Nasdaq sent us the podium, and we rebuilt it at our headquarters, where we first started our business.” “It was a full-circle moment for us.”

Bankers, exchange executives and others at companies planning for a 2022 IPO said Omicron is discontinuing some IPO plans in early January. Of course, other factors are likely at play as well: a volatile stock market and recent IPO performance.

Despite issuing a record-breaking IPO in 2021, traditional offerings struggled after their debut. By the end of December, nearly two out of every three companies that went public last year were trading below their IPO prices. Last Wednesday, shares fell sharply after minutes from a recent Federal Reserve meeting, Fed officials discussed a faster timetable for raising rates.

This year is still expected to be big for new listings, with buzzy companies including Reddit Inc. and food maker Chobani Inc slated to go public.

Despite the recent Covid-19 wave, not all officials are shying away from in-person events. Rocket maker Virgin Orbit Holdings on Friday Inc. Of

The CEO rings the opening bell on Nasdaq.

And it’s not just the executives that Virgin Orbit brought in: Despite a snow storm, the company set up one of its full-scale model rockets in the middle of Times Square. The splash event helped celebrate Virgin Orbit’s merger with a special-purpose acquisition company. There was one conspicuous absence: Founder Richard Branson did not appear in person. On Thursday, he revealed that he tested positive for Covid-19.

Write [email protected] . on Corey Dribsh

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