Chip specialist Alphawave drops 10% on London debut


Shares in Canadian semiconductor group Alphawave fell as much as 24 per cent on their first day of trading in London, the latest in a string of underwhelming public-market debuts in the UK capital.

Alphawave, which launched four years ago, sold £856m worth of shares at 410p apiece, giving it an opening valuation of £3.1bn — the largest new technology listing since Deliveroo’s disastrous London launch in March. Shares closed at 370p per share, a decline of about 10 per cent.

While analysts and bankers said the fall reflected global trends rather than any underperformance of the London market, some have also questioned the group’s valuation.

“This has been an unlucky week [for IPOs],” said Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell. “[But] £3bn even for a well-understood industry, and even though it’s growing rapidly, you could argue was pretty punchy.”

Alphawave is relocating from Canada to the UK, with plans to build a research facility in Cambridge, an established centre for the industry. The UK boasts a number of prominent companies in the field, including Arm, which chipmaker Nvidia acquired last year, CSR and Wolfson Micro. 

Several analysts and bankers said Alphawave had fallen victim to a recent wobble in tech stocks. The technology-focused Nasdaq Composite on Monday closed down 2.6 per cent as inflation fears grow, though it has since regained some of that ground.

“The post-open dip reflects worldwide volatility in trading of high-growth and high-value stocks in recent weeks, and some investors shorting IPOs in this environment, in particular where there are low trading volumes,” said Markus Bauman, corporate securities attorney at law firm Goodwin.

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Others also pointed out that rising prices for the raw minerals and metals needed in the chip industry could erode future revenues.

Alphawave’s woes come after Deliveroo’s London listing, dubbed “the worst IPO in London’s history” by one of its bankers. Shares in the food delivery app are down more than 38 per cent from their IPO price.

“There’s probably a lot of wailing and pointing of fingers, but I’m not sure it’s fair,” said Mould, pointing to more successful recent IPOs such as ecommerce company The Hut Group or cyber security firm Dartktrace. “London does like entrepreneurs and it has a good record of providing risk capital, unfortunately there’s been a bit of a bad run.”

Other chipmakers such as US-listed Nvidia have also struggled amid the recent fall in tech stocks, with its share price declining 5 per cent in the past week.

Barclays and JPMorgan acted as joint bookmakers alongside BMO Capital Markets on the Alphawave flotation. Funds managed by BlackRock and Janus Henderson agreed to buy $510m as “cornerstone” investors in the offering.



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