Wednesday, May 16, 2018

AXA Equitable’s $2.7B offering is year’s largest IPO

By John Filar Atwood

Financial planning and management company AXA Equitable Holdings completed 2018’s largest IPO to date last week, raising $2.74 billion in its public market debut. The company was the third new issuer of the year to top $2 billion in offering proceeds, along with PagSeguro Digital ($2.26 billion) and iQIYI ($2.25 billion). Snap’s $3.4 billion offering was the only IPO that surpassed $2 billion in proceeds last year. AXA Equitable was one of four companies that completed IPOs last week. China’s HUYA began trading, and was the tenth Chinese company to complete an IPO in U.S. markets in 2018. Non-U.S. companies now account for 27 percent of the year’s IPOs. Origin Bancorp was the third state commercial bank to go public in the past two weeks. It was the second IPO company this year that is headquartered in Louisiana, which produced no new issuers in 2016 and 2017. Evelo Biosciences raised $85 million in the week’s other deal. Morgan Stanley, which led the AXA Equitable Holdings offering, also served as lead underwriter for Evelo.

New registrants. The week’s activity included four new registrations, one of which was filed by asset-based truckload carrier U.S. Xpress Enterprises. The company’s customer base includes Amazon, FedEx, Home Depot and Procter & Gamble. In connection with its IPO, U.S. Xpress will enter into a new revolving credit facility and a new term loan credit agreement. Taiwan’s M17 Entertainment, an operator of a live streaming platform in Asia, also registered. M17 will continue to be controlled by its officers and directors, as well as venture capital investors after the offering. The last IPO in the U.S. by a company headquartered in Taiwan was in December 2010. Autolus Therapeutics was the third London-based company to register in the U.S. in 2018. The company develops programmed T-cell therapies for the treatment of cancer. Autolus is planning a corporate reorganization to prepare for its IPO. The week’s other filer was Avalara, the developer of a cloud-based platform to automate corporate taxes. The Washington company is controlled by its board members, officers, and investors that include Warburg Pincus and Sageview Capital. The prepackaged software industry (SIC 7372) has already produced seven new issuers this year.

Withdrawals. No companies withdrew their pending registration statements last week.

The information reported here is gathered using IPO Vital Signs, a Wolters Kluwer Regulatory U.S. database that includes all SEC registered IPOs, including REITs and those non-U.S. IPO filers seeking to list in the U.S. markets. IPO Vital Signs does not track closed-end funds, best efforts or non-underwritten deals, or IPO offerings for amounts less than $5 million.