How to rebound from a failed IPO

Despite going through the time-consuming IPO process, roughly 1 in 3 would-be issuers fails to complete its IPO and instead withdraws. Not all withdrawals are bad, and in fact some firms instead (e.g.) accept a buyout bid while others simply return to private status and raise no more money. In a paper with Dr. Craig Dunbar, we study the determinants of the success of firms that “fail” IPOs. Firms with venture capital backing or prestigious investment bankers are 24% and 8% (respectively) more likely to rebound from a failed IPO to conduct a private placement, merger/acquisition, or to re-file and complete an IPO. As well, firms with more underwriters on their IPO and with more revenue obtain better valuations in those post-withdrawal events. The former occurs because the underwriters compete to advise the withdrawn firm on its subsequent deal. Firms considering the IPO path and want a stronger fallback position should generally wait until revenues are strong, obtain venture capital backing, hire a prestigious investment bank, and ensure there are enough underwriters involved to foster a healthy competition for their business. Once gain, competition works!