No IPOs likely on Irish stock market in first half of the year

CEO Daryl Byrne says second half of 2019 ‘more likely’ in terms of new company listings

The Irish stock market is unlikely to host any initial public offerings (IPO) until after the summer due to volatility in equities globally, its chief executive has said.

"I think the second half of the year is more likely when we could see companies coming to the market," said Daryl Byrne, chief executive of the exchange, as part of a wide-ranging interview with The Irish Times. "We'll have to see what happens with Brexit and general macro-economic conditions."

Mr Byrne runs Euronext Dublin, formerly known as the Irish Stock Exchange. Its trading name changed after it was taken over last March by pan-European exchange operator Euronext.

The Iseq index in Dublin has rallied 11 per cent so far this year following a 22 per cent slump in 2018, while the global market, measured by the MSCI All World Index, has gained 11.6 per cent. However, volatility remains high as investors fret about Brexit, slowing economic growth and international trade tensions.

A Reuters poll of 200 stock strategists, analysts and fund managers over the past two weeks found that most market participants see global equities, at best, only recouping their last year’s losses in 2019. The 2018 sell-off was the worst since the financial crisis.

Irish companies that postponed IPO plans late last year include property and hospitality company Tetrarch; a homebuilder called DRes, promoted by US private equity firm Lone Star and Durkan Residential managing director Patrick Durkan; and a retail real-estate investment trust being set up by Californian investment firm Oaktree and Dublin-based Sigma Retail Partners.

Paddy McKillen jnr’s pub, restaurant and hotels group, Press-Up Entertainment, also decided last summer to mothball plans for an IPO.

Mr Byrne did not comment on individual companies.

Meanwhile, the Dublin exchange, which was sold by a group of Irish stockbrokers for €158.8 million, is working on a series of new initiatives, Mr Byrne said.

These include plans for some Dublin-listed bonds to be actively traded on the exchange, and the possible start of futures trading on individual Irish stocks.

Euronext Dublin is also preparing to launch a one-stop-shop this year for the trading of exchange-traded funds listed on any regulated market in Europe.

Traditionally Dublin-listed ETFs, which contain a collection of assets such as shares, commodities or bonds, have been traded in London.