Canada's mining sector fails to book a single IPO so far this year

For the first time in a decade, Canada's normally bustling mining sector failed to book a single Initial Public Offering (IPO) on either the Toronto Stock Exchange or the TSX Venture Exchange in the first quarter of 2013, according to a PwC survey released Monday.

Only the real estate sector showed some signs of life in the period, says the report, as three IPOs from that sector made it to the TSX in the first three months of the year. All were real estate income trusts (REITs). There were only four new issues on all Canadian exchanges during the period with total proceeds of $422 million, the PwC survey showed.

"It's a classic good news/bad news story. The interest in real estate is certainly encouraging, and has been since last year," said in a statement Dean Braunsteiner, national IPO services leader, PwC. "We believe there could be more to come as retail investors continue to seek yield through REITs."

By comparison, there were 13 new issues on all Canadian exchanges with a total value of $20 million in the first quarter of 2012 – 12 of them from mining companies. There were no IPOs on the TSX in the first quarter of 2012.

Normally a stalwart of the IPO market, the mining sector has registered at least two new mining issues on one of Canada's two leading exchanges for every quarter since 2003. (A single small mining issue for $250,000 was placed on the CNSX in the first quarter of this year.) Canada is considered one of the world's premier markets for new issues of equity in mining companies.

"The complete lack of activity in mining, a sector that has been a pillar of Canada's equity market, is unprecedented," says Braunsteiner.

"The TSX Venture usually generates some activity for junior mining companies. Not so this quarter, and it's been the same with London – another major market where mining companies raise equity."

Braunsteiner added that some mining companies have recently sought debt financing and there has been anecdotal evidence that private equity firms look to be moving into the sector.

"However, the availability of money for the costly construction phase of new mines still remains a question mark. Given the importance of the mining industry to our equity markets, this is a trend that bears watching," he said.

Image: Board at the Toronto Stock Exchange, 1910, Wikimedia