Best IPO Refuge From `Brexit' Panic Is in Nordics, Nasdaq Says

  • Head of Nasdaq European listings sees 60 Nordic IPOs this year
  • `Brexit' fears threatening to slow down London-based IPOs

The man in charge of European listings at Nasdaq Inc. says the Nordic region is set to provide one of the most stable backdrops for initial public offerings amid market tensions spurred by the U.K.’s decision to hold a June referendum on European Union membership.

The threat of a so-called “Brexit” may upend IPO plans in London, but the Nordic region is proving singularly immune to such risks, with about 60 companies set to raise capital through public sales this year, according to Adam Kostyal, head of European listings at Nasdaq.

"In London, the Brexit question is slowing down the stock exchange in terms of the number of listings, but it’s clearly not impacting the Nordics as much," Kostyal said in a phone interview Monday. "We see a continued strong market in the Nordics from a listing perspective.”

Price Appeal

Almost 100 Nordic companies sold shares to the public last year. And as long as interest rates remain at record lows, equity markets will continue to attract investors eager to boost their returns, Kostyal said. That’s helped buoy the share prices of those companies that have opted for IPOs.

Mobile gaming company LeoVegas AB and healthcare provider Humana AB have both seen their shares rise since listing last month, while Scandinavian Tobacco Group A/S has also gained since raising about 3.6 billion kroner ($552 million) when it listed in Denmark in February.

But a British exit from the EU isn’t the only risk that IPO candidates face. The amount of capital raised from European listings plummeted 80 percent to $3.5 billion in the first quarter as lower commodity prices and faltering economic growth fueled volatility, according to Renaissance Capital. Still, Kostyal says no Nordic companies abandoned or delayed their IPO plans, following a record number of listings in the region in 2015.

"From a Nordic perspective the market is very resilient," he said. "Unlike other European markets or even at a global level, we feel we have a good eco-system here to support these smaller and medium-sized companies."

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