Who is floating on the rising market tide?

The continued resurgence of Australia’s sharemarkets has prompted a slate of small and medium cap companies to nominate for listing in the coming months.

Earlier this week SmartCompany predicted the market would see a healthy flow of sharemarket floats over the coming months, with companies such as Storm Financial, Commquest and Ivanhoe likely to complete initial public offerings (IPOs) by the end of the year.

In late July and August, the international credit crunch triggered severe market volatility and an overall drop in values, causing several IPOs to be postponed, and at least one cancelled, for mortgage broker Australian Finance Group.

But ASX’s bulging list of upcoming floats suggests the return of the market to record highs, and a strong performance by several small cap IPOs, will get the flow of floats moving again.

Most of the IPOs scheduled for the month ahead are mining and exploration minnows, but there are some interesting non-resources small cap floats coming up, including Brisbane-based medical device company ImpediMed, which plans to raise $18 million, and Empired, a Perth-based software and IT infrastructure group going for $3 million.

Larger companies reported to be looking at floating in 2007 include BT Investment Management, seeking more than $800 million, the NIB Health Fund seeking $500 million, and Bell Potter Securities looking for up to $90 million.

Ed Prendergast, a fund manager for Pengana Capital’s emerging companies fund, says experienced market watchers won’t be surprised to see the fund-raising train get back on track.

“Each year for the last three to four years we’ve seen the market pull back 10% to 15% – people start saying the party’s over – and then we get a strong rebound and all of a sudden all these IPOs are recommenced,” Prendergast says.


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