A growing number of recently public companies are choosing to return to private ownership after realizing that going public is not always as good as it seems.
According to Dealogic, out of the hundreds of companies that went public in the booming years of 2020 and 2021, 10 have already agreed to sell themselves to private equity firms. In contrast, only eight companies that went public in 2018 or 2019 have gone private since then.
In many cases, the decision to choose a buyout over staying public is driven by the poor performance of the class of initial public offerings from 2020-21, with most now trading below their debut prices. This situation creates an opportunity for private equity investors who are looking to deploy significant amounts of cash and also provides exit opportunities for buyout firms with residual stakes that are under pressure to return capital to their fund investors.
Last year, grill maker Weber Inc. agreed to be taken private for $8.05 a share, which was lower than its IPO price of $14 less than 18 months prior. Likewise, Sumo Logic Inc. recently agreed to be bought by private-equity firm Francisco Partners for $12.05 per share, down from the data-analytics software company’s IPO price of $22. As a result, bankers, investors, and executives predict that others will follow suit in the coming months.
Cvent Holding Corp., which had previously been owned by buyout firm Vista Equity Partners, entered the public market in 2021 and is now considering a sale that could value the event-software provider at over $4 billion. Cvent went public by merging with a special-purpose acquisition company in a deal that was valued at $5.3 billion.
These events are indicative of the aftermath of the busiest IPO market ever. Companies rushed to go public in 2020 and 2021 when investors were willing to pay a premium for the promise of future earnings and growth. However, a rise in interest rates and a sharp decline in stocks since then have dampened investor interest in new offerings, and the IPO market has practically stalled. While advisers hope that the IPO market will begin to thaw by midyear, some of the biggest companies, such as fintech giant Stripe Inc., are not expected to go public until at least late 2023.
Nevertheless, not all companies are being sold at a loss.