The Swedish battery gigafactory Northvolt has been getting ready for an IPO, either in Stockholm or in the US, for at least a year. In February, its head of corporate finance, Andreas Pettersson, told Sifted that an IPO could come “in the next year or two.”
Now it looks like the decision is leaning toward a listing in Stockholm that could value the climate tech company at $20bn, according to the Financial Times.
This would not only be one of the biggest IPOs for a climate tech company ever, but it could also serve as a stamp of approval for European stock exchanges.
The pull of the US
As of late, most large European tech companies have picked the US for their listing. One reason behind this is that the US market has much more capital available to invest.
European companies listing in the US have raised four times as much money as US companies listing in Europe since 2000. Looking at the combined market cap of the top ten largest US tech IPOs between 2016 and 2020, the gap in value generated by these companies is 4.1x at $133bn for the US versus $32bn for Europe, according to Atomico state of European tech from 2020.
Apart from Polish ecommerce Allegro, which listed in Warsaw at a valuation of $11bn in 2020, and fintech Adyen, which listed in Amsterdam in 2018 at a valuation of $8.3bn, most large European tech companies have chosen to list in the US.
Swedish music unicorn Spotify picked the New York Stock Exchange for its listing in 2018 and was then valued at $28bn. British multinational chip designer Arm was relisted in New York at a valuation of $54.5bn earlier this year and UK-based e-commerce company Farfetch picked the US in 2018 for a $5.8bn listing.
Picking Canada for a factory and Stockholm for listing
Few would have raised an eyebrow if Northvolt had also opted for the New York Stock Exchange for its IPO. But, equally, Northvolt picking Canada as its North American destination for its first factory on the continent, made a listing in the US less likely.
A source close to Northvolt said that Canada wasn’t such a strange choice considering that the economic benefits in Canada are similar to what Northvolt would have received through the interest reduction act (IRA) in the US.
Canada has abundant clean energy, including the hydroelectric power used by Northvolt, and provides access to locally mined lithium and cobalt. It is also a good place to set up the factory in the vicinity of a large city, Quebec. Canada is a good place for Northvolt — perhaps even better than Sweden.
Northvolt has raised $9bn in debt and equity and is a particularly strong brand in Sweden, and many of its first institutional investors have their base there. A source told Sifted that the company had been advised to keep the IPO close to its home market.
Attract international capital to Stockholm
Adam Kostyál, senior vice president of listings at Nasdaq Europe, agrees that Stockholm could be a good stock exchange for a company like Northvolt, however, he doesn’t want to comment on the company in particular.
“The Swedish market is strong and it has already been shown to be able to attract international capital. A company with similar characteristics as Northvolt will be able to reach that capital.”
A listing of a clean tech company of the size of $20bn would be “interesting” for European stock exchanges, according to Kostyál.
“Europe has become much stronger lately when it comes to supporting tech companies with growth capital and there is no obvious reason why Europe should not be able to support these as listed companies as well. They will however need to do some extra legwork to attract key growth international institutional investors,” he says.
“Also, a listing in the US is much more expensive than in Europe and one has to review if a listing in the US will create that extra value that will offset those additional costs both in the listing and being listed in the US,” Kostyál says.
When listing on Nasdaq in Stockholm, it is also possible to do a dual listing at Nasdaq in the US. According to sources close to the company, this is a likely scenario down the line, however, not at the first instance.
Picking Nasdaq in Stockholm for Northvolt’s IPO will not only mean a lot for Sweden, which missed out on the Spotify listing in 2018, but also for Europe, which definitely could do with a decacorn listing in the coming years.
Sifted has spoken to Northvolt which has declined to comment on this piece.