“Open window will hold on”
EuroBiotech_ Do you think at present it’s a good time for a biotech company to go public?
Karl Nägler_ Already for some years now, we see an open IPO window for biotech. This is particularly true for US Nasdaq for which we saw very good performing numbers during the recent months and promising companies active in e.g. gene therapy, or immunotherapeutics who have had positive news flow. This development also has an influence on the European stock markets: if Nasdaq Biotech inindices are going up, Europe is also well performing. At present, no dramatic downswing is visible in the US, although from my perspective current indices already tend to reach record levels from 2015. The open window seems to hold on.
EuroBiotech_ How do you evaluate Europe as a stock market location?
Karl Nägler_ Whilst observing the European stock market during the recent years, we have seen a quite positive development. At Euronext in particular, a substantial number of biotech IPOs took place, but since 2018 this development decelerated a bit – due to some negative news flow in 2017 about listed companies e.g. at Euronext Paris. For this reason, I think, at the time being, more mature biotech businesses are requested by investors in Europe. In addition, we see less specialist investors active in Europe. Generalists usually look for safer investments and business models they can understand and are often not interested in early stage companies. This means: if you are planning a stock market debut, your company story should fit into their scheme, otherwise it will be difficult to hold performance levels high in the long-term.
EuroBiotech_ So you would advise biotech companies to have a look at Nasdaq?
Karl Nägler_ We at Gimv always evaluate an IPO very openly, both in the US and in Europe. The decision really depends on the development stage of the respective company, its business model, investor base and origin, its liaison with the US market. What speaks for Nasdaq: the liquidity is much higher and you will easier find comparable companies with similar business models. This makes it easier to receive an adequate market capitalisation.
EuroBiotech_ So far, IPO activity for European companies was very modest. Do you see any reasons for that?
Karl Nägler_ I think there is no empty pipeline and I expect to see more activity soon. You have to take into account that candidate companies need to be at the right stage of development. Furthermore, it takes time to prepare them for such a step – in particular, if the IPO is planned in the US. You have to make sure that the firm is known by US investors and that the management team is ready for this transatlantic task.