European IPO market particularly quiet in Q1 as companies wait for uncertainty to lift

Apr 08, 2019

  • Value of IPOs in Europe totalled €0.7bn in the first quarter of 2019, compared to €13.1bn in the same quarter last year

  • Despite the UK IPO market being 58% down by value on the same period last year, London retains its position as an international listing venue of choice

Volatile markets in the last quarter of 2018 cast a shadow into the start of 2019 and, despite positive indices, IPO activity across Europe has been low during Q1 2019 as uncertainty drove caution for companies, issuers and investors. In the UK, five IPOs raised £0.5bn in Q1 2019 vs 16 IPOs raising £1.2bn in Q1 2018. The figures for European IPOs during this first quarter, which include the UK, look particularly stark in comparison to Q1 2018, which saw two mega-IPOs buck the trend for what is traditionally a quiet quarter in the market.

Peter Whelan, UK IPO lead at PwC UK, commented:

“The European IPO market started 2018 with a number of high-value listings, whereas 2019 saw much more of a trickle. Political uncertainties - both Brexit and global - unquestionably impacted both the European and UK IPO equities markets and many companies sensibly paused to see the lie of the land.

“Despite a muted start to the year, we’re seeing a number of high quality transactions at the start of this second quarter, with companies launching marketing processes and receiving positive feedback with good investor demand.”

London retains its position as an international listing venue of choice, with companies such as the Middle Eastern payments business Network International choosing to float in the UK capital and Rustranscom, the specialist rail freight transportation company, having recently announced its intention to float in London.

IPO activity globally has slowed in the first quarter of 2019, but pipelines for future activity remain strong, with unicorns and mega deals, particularly in the US, lining up to take place later in the year. The recent IPO of ride-hailing firm Lyft, which raised $2.3bn on Nasdaq and was the largest IPO of Q1 2019, was the first of a number of US technology IPOs expected to make their debuts on the public markets. These include big names such as Slack, Uber, Pinterest and Airbnb. There is a high level of focus on the Lyft transaction as a potential bellweather and there will be continued interest following its mixed performance in the initial market place.

Lucy Tarleton, capital markets director at PwC UK, added:

“London remains an attractive listing destination and we are watching the market closely as investors have cash to deploy despite the uncertainty. There are certain pockets of activity but generally we expect the current situation to continue until companies have greater clarity on the future geopolitical landscape.”


Notes to editors

  1. IPO Watch Europe surveys all new primary market equity IPOs on Europe’s principal stock markets and market segments (including exchanges in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and the UK) on a quarterly basis. Movements between markets on the same exchange are excluded.
  2. To find out more about PwC's IPO Watch, please visit

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