IPOs from a CFO’s Perspective

Gareth Hague has led two listings over the past four years. Today, he shares with you his informed views on IPOs from a CFO’s perspective in Yorkshire.

May 13, 2022
May 17, 2022

Gareth Hague has one of the most informed views on IPOs from a CFO’s perspective in Yorkshire. He is now a veteran of two listings over the past four years. He was the Group Finance Director at SimplyBiz in Huddersfield when they listed in 2018. More recently, he led the IPO of Libertine Holdings plc as CFO in Sheffield in December 2021.

Gareth has been a close friend of our team for many years and he was the obvious choice of a CFO to share his perspectives on this subject. We were delighted to spend some time with him last week.

 

Tell us the main details of your two successful IPO experiences

The first IPO was in April 2018 with The SimplyBiz Group. The business was listed with a market capitalisation of £130m. The IPO raised c£65m, partially for selling shareholders and partially for funds for ongoing business. The main process took c4 months to complete, although we started 'IPO preparation' in the 12 months beforehand. 

The second IPO was completed in December 2021 with Libertine Holdings PLC. The business was listed with a market capitalisation of c£27m, and raised £9m for funding business growth. The timing of the main process was similar at 4 months, but the business had been through less IPO preparation work, with the strategy to pursue an IPO being agreed by the Board in Spring of 2021. 

There are not many CFOs in Yorkshire who have been involved in one, how have you become involved twice?

There are relatively few PLCs in the region and not many people have been through the IPO process. It can therefore become a specialism / unique differentiator for an individual in the market. I have been fortunate to join two ambitious companies, who have been seeking to raise capital on AIM, and having completed my first IPO with SimplyBiz, it was attractive for Libertine to recruit a CFO with this experience. 

 

What have been your main observations of the processes? What would be your advice to any CFO in a business considering the IPO option?

Preparation is the key to a successful IPO. There are a number of critical aspects /workstreams to focus on, including:

  • Developing a strong investment case and pitch deck. This will be refined through input from Advisors (Nominated Advisor & Lawyer)and during Investment Marketing / Roadshows. 
  • Addressing any matters that impact either the Share Capital Table, or valuation of the Company. These should be addressed early in the process, as they could frustrate the project in the latter stages and become more expensive if the success of the IPO is contingent on their resolution. Examples could include setting historical issues with minority shareholders, crystallisation of convertible debt instruments, resolution of outstanding legal / compliance matters.
  • Establishing an appropriate corporate structure. For a UK Listing it is necessary to have a single class of share capital, which may involve the conversion of multiple classes. A new 'TopCo' may also be required to meet capital adequacy requirements. 
  • Developing a robust financial plan, including rationale for funds raised. 

A large amount of documents and information are required for the various due diligence processes. The more organised your document management, the easier your life will be!

What happens in the business after the IPO?

The completion of an IPO is an important milestone for a business and it should be celebrated by the people that have brought the Company to that stage. 

Unfortunately, post-IPO life does not involve relaxing on the beach and breathing a huge sigh of relief! It is a new and exciting chapter for a business, and hopefully one that allows it to accelerate its growth and access new markets /opportunities. 

 

In our third and final article next Tuesday 24th May, we are delighted to present he views and advice of Paul Davies – Audit Partner for BDO in Yorkshire andthe North East.

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