2 top tech bankers are expecting 2020 to be front-loaded with IPOs since US elections could be even crazier than normal


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  • The 2020 election will likely push companies seeking to go public next year to do so in the first half, bankers told Business Insider. 
  • This election in particular “might be more extreme than previous elections as it relates to economic policy,” said Nick Giovanni, the co-head of Goldman Sachs’s global technology, media and telecom group. 
  • At least one tech company, though, is planning to go public in November. GitLab’s CEO recently told Business Insider why he’s planning on a mid-November IPO, which could come via a direct listing. 
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Every four years, the US presidential election leads to a slowdown in initial public offerings, two of tech’s top bankers told Business Insider. 

But next year could see an even more dramatic dropoff than usual, said Nick Giovanni, the co-head of Goldman Sachs’s global technology, media and telecom group. Still, that doesn’t mean the window of opportunity for IPOs will totally close in the third and fourth quarters.

Two of the front runners for the Democratic party nomination, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, have economic policies that differ markedly from President Donald Trump’s and even from prior Democratic presidential candidates. The eventual party nominee would likely seek to unwind at least some of Trump’s policies, which could lead to market instability. 

“The potential outcome of this election might be more extreme than previous elections as it relates to economic policy,” Giovanni said. “There’s a view that many companies and private company shareholders have that it’s safer to target a summer window or H1 than to plan for an IPO in Q3 or Q4.”

Giovanni said that since it takes about six months to go public, it’s still unclear if companies are going to accelerate IPO plans and go public in the first half of the year, or if they’ll choose to postpone an IPO until after the election. 

Greg Chamberlain, JPMorgan’s head of US technology, media, and telecoms equity capital markets, said his clients are looking to get ahead both of the election and of the markets’ heavier focus on politics starting in the summer. 

“There have been many constructive market periods around elections; issuers have to be nimble and prepared to change their plans if there is market volatility at any point in time. If you go back three years, capital markets opened again and there were a number of deals that came to market,” Chamberlain said.

“It doesn’t mean we’re not going to see deals in the second half of the year; it may be a pretty active period. Issuers have to retain optionality around timing and maneuverability.” 

The looming election isn’t scaring every would-be issuer away from going public the same month. GitLab, the development platform, is eyeing a November 18, 2020 listing. 

Earlier this month, CEO Sid Sijbrandij told Business Insider why he’s still looking toward a November public markets entrance – which could come via direct listing, not the traditional IPO. 

“November is a goal and we might go public sooner or later,” Sijbrandij said, noting he’s heard that listings typically slow around elections. “We’re looking at our options.” 

Besides GitLab, the most likely tech IPOs for next year, per a CB Insights report, are Snowflake, Credit Karma, Unity, and Procore. 

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