by Scott Deveau
Canadian technology initial public offerings are on track to slow down in 2016 amid turmoil in North American markets and some bigger names taking more time to prepare for a share sale, said John Ruffolo, chief executive officer of OMERS Ventures.
Hootsuite Media Inc., the Vancouver-based social media startup, and education technology firm D2L Corp. will probably wait until at least 2017 before they IPO, according to Ruffolo, who runs the venture arm of the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System pension plan, an investor in both companies.
Others, such as Builddirect.com Technologies Inc., may be even further out, he added.
"The only thing that you can control is an IPO," Ruffolo said in an interview with Bloomberg TV Canada, adding that finding a buyer for your company can sometimes be more challenging. "What we can do is we try to make sure the companies are well-positioned, have the right talent, their operating model is very tight so they’re fully prepared to go public," he said.
Ruffolo said he expected just one of 26 companies in OMERS Ventures’ portfolio to go public in 2016. He declined to say which one. The money manager said he likes to see invested companies wait until they have revenue of at least C$100 million ($73.7 million) before they consider an IPO.
Vision Critical Communications Inc. is the most likely candidate in OMERS Ventures portfolio to debut in 2016. The Vancouver-based marketing-software company has already hired the Bank of Montreal to prepare for a potential stock sale, people familiar with the matter have said. Vision Critical is looking to sell its consulting business before it approaches the public markets early next year, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter isn’t public.
While some of the bigger tech names in Canada might not be approaching the markets in 2016, some of the smaller companies might, in part, because access to private capital is getting more restricted, according to Tom Liston, a managing partner at Toronto-based Difference Capital Financial Inc.
If markets stabilize, there’s a chance some of the larger names may also seek to go public in that window, Liston said. He said investors are hungry in Canada for anything that isn’t in the oil and gas sector.
"These companies are really high-quality companies and I think the window could open quickly again," he said. "Where else are you going to invest right now?"
--With assistance from Gerrit De Vynck.