In the latest edition of our Bermuda Public Companies Update we recap significant transactions involving Bermuda public companies over the period H1 2019.

Global market update

The first half of 2019 saw a notable slow-down in global market activity from the same period last year. Capital raised in the global IPO market fell by 37%, with volume down 34% on last year. A total of US$69.8 billion was raised across 514 IPO deals. In contrast, North America was the only region to show an increase in capital raised, up 13%. The US domestic IPO market rebounded in early 2019 after a slow end to last year. H1 2019 saw a parade of high-value tech companies go public in the US, and despite the Uber and Lyft IPOs, investor demand remains generally robust, though trading has been volatile.

Similarly, while global M&A volume has been underwhelming in H1 2019, US M&A activity has remained high with seven of the top ten deals of the year being domestic US deals.

Bermuda companies update

Market activity for Bermuda public companies listed on the NYSE and Nasdaq has generally followed the US trend, with several M&A transactions announced and/or completed, particularly in the finance and technology sectors. Although there have been no Bermuda company IPOs on US exchanges so far in 2019 (compared to two in H1 2018) there have been two direct listings of Bermuda companies, one on the NYSE and one on Nasdaq:

  • Flex LNG Ltd., a Bermuda-incorporated oil and gas storage and transportation company controlled by shipping magnate John Fredriksen, completed a direct listing on the NYSE in June under the symbol “FLNG”. Flex was the first listing of an ocean shipping company on a major US exchange in four years and may be the first sign of an up-tick in the shipping markets after several difficult years. We feature the Bermuda shipping market elsewhere in this bulletin.
  • Watford Holdings Ltd., a Bermuda-incorporated property and casualty insurance and reinsurance company, parent of Bermuda reinsurer Watford Re, began trading its common shares on the Nasdaq Global Select Market in June, under the symbol “WTRE”.

There have been a large number of fixed income and secondary offerings in the first half of this year, including two tranches of senior unsecured notes offered by IHS Markit in April for a total value of US$1 billion.

M&A activity over the period included the acquisition by Bermuda-based Invesco Ltd. of Oppenheimer Funds Inc. for US$5.7 billion. Conyers advised Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company as seller on the deal.

We have included details of the market activity referenced above in this edition of our update, along with statistical information about the Bermuda public companies market, which we hope will be of interest to our legal colleagues, clients and Bermuda market followers.

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