By Abhinav Ramnarayan
LONDON (Reuters) – Norway’s Pexip announced virtual roadshows on Monday in a step towards becoming the first European company to complete an initial public offering (IPO) remotely, as it looks to build on demand for video-conferencing due to the coronavirus crisis.
Pexip, which rivals video conferencing software such as Zoom and BlueJeans and says it is used by the U.S. military and the German government, may blaze a trail for others, bankers said.
A combination of turbulent markets due to the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic and the logistical hurdles of conducting a deal remotely during lockdowns in most of the world has deterred companies from launching IPOs.
But in a rare example of a firm going ahead with a listing during the crisis, Pexip intends to sell 17 million new shares at NOK 63 ($6.06) each. Existing shareholders plan to sell another 17 million shares at the same price, taking the total to be raised in the IPO to NOK 2.142 billion ($206 million).
IPOs usually involve analysts, bankers and company executives jet-setting around the world for presentations at high-end hotels and face-to-face meetings with investors.
“We initially had some pushback about completing the deal on video, but this lockdown period is a big change for society as a whole and we believe for the finance industry and for IPOs it is a super efficient way of doing interactive meetings,” Pexip Chief Executive Odd Sverre Ostlie told Reuters on Friday.
Ostlie admitted, however, that the market volatility had scared him a bit, but “massive interest” since Pexip first announced its intention to list last week helped soothe nerves.
The company has also reduced risk by enlisting so-called cornerstone investors who committed to the deal before launch.
Funds advised by Capital Research and Management Company, Wasatch Global Investors, DNB Asset Management and TIN Fonder have committed to subscribe to NOK 1 billion of shares.
“We did the very first early look meetings back in January and February live, then we switched to all video meetings,” said Peter Straume, managing partner and chief executive of ABG Sundal Collier Norway, one of the joint global coordinators along with Carnegie and Pareto Securities.
“The company has for example never met the two U.S. based cornerstone investors face-to-face, all interaction with them have been done by video,” he added.
Roadshows for the deal will run from May 5 to May 12, though timing may be extended up until May 19 if necessary, the company said in a statement to the Norwegian bourse.
($1 = 10.3990 Norwegian crowns)
(Reporting by Abhinav Ramnarayan; Editing by Maiya Keidan and Alexander Smith)