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Dec 14, 2020

IPO fever hits Canada with offerings at highest level since 2014

Biotech company AbCellera stock triples in Nasdaq debut


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Last week’s US$483 million initial public offering from AbCellera Biologics Inc. pushed the total value of Canadian IPOs this year to US$5.72 billion, marking the biggest year for such deals since 2014.

That number represents the value of new shares issued in 88 Canadian-company IPOs that have started trading this year, regardless of whether they’re listed on a domestic exchange. AbCellera, a biotech backed by Peter Thiel that’s involved in a treatment for Covid-19, opted to list on the Nasdaq and not the Toronto Stock Exchange.

This year’s total would rise if some of the 12 IPOs that are currently pending begin to trade -- potentially surpassing the US$5.94 billion raised from IPOs in 2014, the year Canadian energy firm PrairieSky Royalty Ltd. went public.

The AbCellera offering -- which saw the shares nearly triple in their first day of trading last week -- continued a strong year for IPOs in the pharmaceutical industry as the pandemic bolsters interest in companies involved in creating novel therapies.

In addition to Vancouver-based AbCellera, 2020 has also seen initial offerings from cancer-drug developers Repare Therapeutics Inc., based in St. Laurent, Quebec, and Fusion Pharmaceuticals Inc., based in Hamilton, Ontario.

Technology firms have also had a big year, with offerings from Nuvei Corp., an electronic-payment processing company, and a U.S. initial offering from Lightspeed POS Inc., which helps companies with e-commerce payment processing. Both companies are based in Montreal. Lightspeed did its initial listing in Toronto in 2019.

The biggest IPO from a Canadian company to start trading this year was the US$1.43 billion offering from GFL Environmental Inc., a Vaughan, Ontario-based waste-management company.

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