After 35 days of limbo, US public-market hopefuls can get back to work — for now.
President Donald Trump agreed to reopen the federal government on Friday for about three weeks while lawmakers renegotiate border security legislation. The short-term agreement will resuscitate the Securities and Exchange Commission, which has effectively been closed since the partial shutdown started on Dec. 22.
That had left IPO hopefuls including Uber Technologies Inc and Lyft Inc sidelined as they waited for feedback from the agency. With the government reopening until at least February 15, the SEC must wade through a reserve of filings and requests, said Anna Pinedo, a partner with law firm Mayer Brown LLP who advises on IPOs.
“There is a very heavy backlog for the SEC staff to deal with,” Pinedo said. “The SEC is going to triage the incoming filings and handle some things that may go stale or miss deadlines, even if they filed later. They will give first consideration to situations that are more urgent.”
Before the shutdown, industry insiders touted 2019 as potentially the busiest year for mega technology IPOs since the dot-com era. Joining Uber and Lyft on the roster could be office-chat software maker Slack Technologies Inc, which has also filed confidential papers, and Airbnb Inc, which a person familiar with the company has said is targeting an IPO sometime between June 2019 and the end of 2020.
Together, the companies account for billions of dollars in new stock that could flood the market this year — though time is still running out for anyone that was desperate to list in the first quarter. US public-market hopefuls must price their IPOs before February 14 to avoid having to provide updated — and audited — financial information for all of 2018. Until then, only the first nine months of numbers are required.
New Fortress Energy LLC, which filed for an IPO in December, isn’t taking any chances. It made an amendment to its documents Friday that allows it to set the price and timing of its listing without sign off from the SEC. Still, the New York based energy infrastructure operator told investors that it may change plans again — “if the SEC does resume normal operations.”