Amsterdam Prepares for Bumper Crop of IPOs as Companies Line Up

(Bloomberg) -- The Dutch IPO drought is over. 

With at least four confirmed initial public offerings in Amsterdam, 2018 is already looking twice as busy as all of last year.

Alfen Beheer BV, which makes charging stations for electrical vehicles, on Thursday became the third company this week to announce its intention to list in Amsterdam, joining merchant bank NIBC Holding NV and wholesaler B&S Group Sarl. In all cases existing shareholders are selling stakes. The announcements would make the current quarter the busiest Dutch IPO season since the second quarter of 2016, data compiled by Bloomberg shows.

“As a Dutch investor, I am very happy to see the local investment universe expand after quite some companies were acquired and de-listed,” said Christian Vondenbusch, a fund manager at Robeco Hollands Bezit, which invests 245 million euros ($300 million) in Dutch companies. “The higher number of Dutch IPOs shows that a lot of capital is still looking for returns.”

Market Optimism

The three announcements this week follow the share sale by a small special purpose acquisition company Dutch Star Companies One NV, which went public earlier this month. Bigger companies are waiting in the wings to the tap the market.

In contrast, only two companies joined the ranks of Euronext Amsterdam in all of last year -- specialty chemicals firm Avantium NV and builder Royal VolkerWessels NV raised a combined 760 million euros.

The opening of the IPO floodgates is a reflection of the optimism in the stock market, which has carried the benchmark higher in the past year. The AEX Index of the leading Dutch stocks traded on the Amsterdam Exchange rose about 13 percent last year, compared with about 7.7 percent for the STOXX Europe 600 Price Index.

The fact that many of the IPOs will involve sales by existing shareholders rather than companies looking to raise funds is a result of owners, including private equity investors, seeking to exit, said Robeco’s Vondenbusch.

“Earlier successful listings in Amsterdam are serving as a trigger for more exits by private equity and selling shareholders, and that is also helped by double-digit stock market growth in combination with higher valuations, lots of liquidity and low interest rates,” he said.

Companies-In-Waiting

LeasePlan Corporation NV, Europe’s largest operator of vehicle fleets, is in “full preparation mode” for a potential June IPO, according to Chief Executive Officer Tex Gunning. Adyen BV, the Amsterdam-based digital payments processor which recently signed a deal to handle transactions on EBay Inc.’s online marketplace, is working with banks including Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan Chase & Co. for its IPO.

According to media reports it may not end there. Stage Entertainment BV, Hunkemoeller and Varo Energy BV may also be contemplating Dutch listings. Stage Entertainment and Hunkemoeller had no further comment when reached by Bloomberg. A spokeswoman for Varo Energy said in an email that the company “continually evaluates strategic options. At this point however, there is nothing further to report.”

‘Auspicious Environment’

If all nine companies that have announced or are speculated to have plans to list do sell shares, 2018 would eclipse 2015, when eight companies including state-owned banking giant ABN Amro Group NV went public.

"It looks like 2018 will be a favorable IPO year,” said René van Vlerken, head of listings at Euronext Amsterdam. The confluence of a growing economy, relatively tame inflation and low interest rates create an “auspicious environment for companies to make their entry into the capital market.”  

Between January 2014 and March 1, this year, 20 companies have listed in Amsterdam, raising a total of 14.9 billion euros, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That’s only a fraction of the more than 190 billion-euro IPO market in western Europe in that same period, when over 1,000 companies commenced trading on exchanges from Athens to Stockholm.

With 3.84 billion euros raised, ABN Amro was the largest IPO in the Netherlands in the period, and the third-largest in Western Europe, behind Innogy SE’s October 2016 listing in Frankfurt and Aena SME SA’s trading debut in Madrid in February 2015.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

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