There were a staggering 165 initial public offerings in U.S. markets between July 1, 2020 and September 30, 2020. Together, these IPOs raised over $61.5 billion for the quarter – an increase of over $43 billion from last quarter and an increase of roughly $47.8 billion from the same period last year. This boom was driven by blank check IPOs, which comprised 48.5% of the IPO market this quarter. The continued easing of global lockdown restrictions imposed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic likely played a part, as well.
As shown in the graph below, the number of IPOs and the amount raised in Q3 2020 is the highest in five years.
There were 12 unicorns this quarter, including three blank check companies. Pershing Square Tontine Holdings, Ltd. [PSTH], a blank check special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), raised the most among all IPOs this quarter – totaling $4 billion. This was the largest ever initial public offering by a SPAC.
The highest non-SPAC IPO was Snowflake, Inc. [SNOW], a cloud-based data warehousing company based which raised almost $3.4 billion.
Accounting and Legal Representation
The top IPO this quarter, Pershing Square Tontine Holdings, Ltd. [PSTH], was represented by Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft and Ropes & Gray and audited by Marcum.
The second largest IPO this quarter, Snowflake, Inc. [SNOW], was represented by Cooley and Goodwin Procter and audited by PwC.
Auditor Market Share
Together, the Big Four audited 70 IPOs, or 42.4%, of the IPO market in Q3 2020.
and all other firms [9%]
— Audit Analytics (@AuditAnalytics) October 21, 2020
Among all types of IPOs, Withum led with 53 IPO audit clients in Q3 2020, followed by EY with 25 audit clients. Withum’s clients raised the highest amount of all firms, bringing in nearly $17.7 billion. PwC ranked second in terms of proceeds, with 14 IPO clients raising over $12.8 billion, while EY ranked third, with 25 IPO clients raising over $10.9 billion.
Auditor Market Share – Excluding Blank Check Companies
Of the 165 initial public offerings in U.S. markets this quarter, 80 (or 48.5 %) were blank check companies. A blank check company has no established business plan or operations and can serve as a vessel to engage in a merger or acquisition with an unidentified company, entity, or other person.
The table below displays the auditor market share for IPOs in Q3 2020, excluding blank check companies. Without blank check companies, the Big Four and BDO hold the lead in terms of IPO count and amount raised. The Big Four audited 69 initial public offerings, or 81.2% of this market, in Q3 2020. EY leads with 25 IPO audit clients, the most for all firms in Q3. PwC maintains its top spot in terms of gross proceeds, with 14 IPO clients raising over $12.8 billion.
Emerging Growth Companies
Of the 165 initial public offerings in Q3 2020, 158 companies, or 95.8%, elected to register as emerging growth companies (EGCs).
After remaining somewhat stagnant in late Q1 and early Q2 due to the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic, IPO activity rebounded with a vengeance in the third quarter. It will be interesting to see if this surge continues into the fourth quarter, amidst ongoing concerns about the pandemic.
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