By Mark Ellenbogen, Assurance Partner at BDO USA, LLP in Bethesda

The 2012 U.S. IPO market outlook has attracted a lot of speculative chatter as some big names in technology and retail, like Facebook and Gilt Groupe, respectively, are expected to go public in the coming year. Despite the hype caused by these imminent offerings, the prevailing sentiment among the investment banking community is that we will see much more of the same this year, as last.  In fact, according to the 2012 BDO IPO Outlook Survey, capital markets executives predict only a net six percent increase in the number of U.S. IPOs, at an average of $291 million.

As revealed in the survey, respondents’ confidence in a robust 2012 IPO market is tempered by political and economic concerns: When asked to identify the greatest threat to a healthy U.S. IPO market in 2012, two-thirds (67%) of capital markets executives cite global political and financial instability.

While the lackluster numbers and pervasive economic concerns do not bode well for the overall 2012 market outlook, technology companies are expected to outperform other industries in IPOs, indicating that the D.C. regional economy could benefit from the expected activity.

Another sign that the IPO market is more robust in D.C. than in other markets is the region’s focus on developing tech accelerators.  As discussed in the article Silicon Hill: The Rise Of The New D.C. Tech Scene, the D.C. area is successfully challenging Silicon Valley’s monopoly on emerging technology startups, positioning it as a hot spot for IPO activity.  The D.C.-based tech startup LivingSocial Inc.—an electronic commerce site that offers daily deals and discounts—will be a company to watch for a 2012 IPO, despite shelving its initial IPO plans after raising $176 million in a private offering during a funding round to raise $400 million in late 2011.

Finally there is a strong desire among local deal-makers to do local deals.  To help facilitate a vibrant deal community, the National Capital chapter of ACG will hold a Capital Connection and Dealsource event at their upcoming Strategic Growth Conference in April.  A number of local investment bankers and private equity firms have already signed up.

Participating Investment Banks & PE groups to date include:

  • Aronson Capital Partners
  • Bluestone Capital Partners
  • Chertoff Capital
  • Clearsight Advisors
  • Harris Williams
  • Houlihan Lokey
  • Imperial Capital
  • Inverness Graham Investments
  • Lincoln International
  • The McLean Group
  • Pierce Capital Partners
  • Prospect Partners, LLC
  • Raymond James
  • Sagent Advisors
  • Seabrook Partners LLC
  • Signal Hill
  • WWC Capital Group

If you’re interested in attending, you can find additional information and register at the ACG National Capital Web site.