2023 holds little promise for tech IPOs as slowdown continues

New Delhi, March 5: The global economic crisis, which hit the companies’ initial public offering (IPO) plans in India in 2022, continues to haunt the founders and CEOs and the first two months of the new year went completely dry as no public offering was launched amid recession fears.

Although some IPOs appear to be in the offing this month, the mood among the companies, investors and the public is yet to be lifted after a dismal December.

Forty Indian corporates raised Rs 59,412 crore through IPOs in calendar year (CY) 2022, half of the Rs 1,18,723 crore (all-time high) mobilised by 63 IPOs in 2021, according to Prime Database, India’s premier database on the primary capital market.

When it comes to big new-age internet companies, only fully-integrated logistics service provider Delhivery (Rs 5,235 crore IPO) and data intelligence firm Tracxn Technologies (Rs 309.38 crore) took the public offering route last year.

Droneacharya Aerial Innovations also went public, with an aim to raise approximately Rs 34 crore through a new issuance of shares.

Meanwhile, startups and tech companies that deferred their public offerings last year included Oyo, Snapdeal, Ola, Droom, MobiKwik, PharmEasy, BoAt and Flipkart.

In 2021, 11 startups went public, including Zomato, Paytm, Policybazaar and Nykaa.

Market experts believe there will be many more IPOs from March onwards.

However, 2023 does not appear to be promising as of now as consumer demand is expected to stay low over the coming quarters, as inflation continues to rise, creating a further slowdown phase for the startups in the country.

There is an ongoing risk of further escalation in the war on Ukraine and the current wheat crop being impacted by hot weather conditions, according to market research firm Redseer Strategy Consultants.

Consumer perception of the general economic condition continues to be pessimistic as per the Reserve Bank of India’s Consumer Confidence Survey of January 2023, where more than 50 per cent of consumers reported it to have worsened.

The IPO and qualified institutional placement (QIP) activity has been declining consistently since 2022 amid global macro-economic conditions and funding squeeze.

This comes at a difficult time for startups. They currently have limited ability to drive growth through discounts and other levers, which worked well during an easier funding environment.

“Therefore, startups must focus on efficient unit economics and improving profitability by sticking to their core offerings,” according to the RedSeer report.

In some good news, as the stock performances of tech IPOs, compared to other consumer companies, witnessed a steeper crash, India is poised to see more than 100 large-scale profitable/path-to-profitability startups in the next five years.

With about 20 of them already being listed, about 80 start-ups have the potential to look at an IPO journey, according to another report by Redseer Strategy Consultants with HSBC.

The learning is that there may be more time, maybe a few quarters, for the markets to recover.