An annus horribilis for medtech flotations

Bausch & Lomb saves 2022's medtech IPO scene from washout as markets close for new entrants.

If any more evidence was needed that the IPO window had shut in 2022, look no further than the paltry number of medtech companies that made it onto the market last year.

It was always going to be hard to match the record-breaking 2021, but in a stunning slump only five companies listed in 2022, and there were no new entrants after July – making it the lowest year for IPOs in over five years. Indeed, almost as many new medtech companies were formed by spin-outs.

The total amount raised through listing was also significantly down, with only 2017 recording a lower annual haul. If not for Bausch & Lomb’s $630m debut, 2022 would have seen just $86.5m raised. Dire market conditions meant that even this profitable eyecare company was forced to price its shares at a 20% discount. 

2022's medtech IPOs
Date Company Focus Amount raised ($m)

Premium/ discount

Share price chg to Dec 30 Exchange
Feb 16 Meihua International Medical Technologies General & plastic surgery 36 0% -17% Nasdaq
Apr 27 Tenon Medical Orthopaedics 16 0% -68% Nasdaq
May 6 Bausch & Lomb  Ophthalmology 630 -20% -14% NYSE
Jul 20 Virax Biolabs In vitro diagnostics 7 0% -85% Nasdaq
Jul 21 Lunit Healthcare IT 28 -36% -2% Kosdaq
Source: Evaluate Medtech & company websites. Premium/discount calculated from mid-point of initially proposed price range and final offer price. 

Everybody hurts

The pain was universal as market volatility, rising interest rates and geopolitical instability hit flotations across the board. The lack of IPO activity after July suggests that investors were taking a wait-and-see approach in the hope of better conditions in 2023. Biopharma also saw one of its worst IPO hauls in years.

Of the companies that did get away none was trading above its float price at the end of December. One of the biggest losers, the UK company Virax Biolabs, has fallen further since the end of last year; now only seven months into its existence as a listed company it is trading 93% below its August high. The company had to raise another $3.8m just a few months after listing, to fund development of its T-cell test technology.

Tenon Medical only had $414,000 in revenues, and losses of $10.4m, in the nine months to September, so the $16m it raised in 2022 might not stretch too far. The spinal implant company focusing on sacroiliac joint pain will need to ramp up sales of its newly approved surgical fusion technology if it is to arrest its 93% share price slide since hitting a high last May.

The Chinese hospital equipment supplier Meihua is down 3% from its float price, while Lunit has suffered the least depreciation to its original list price, with shares now up 8% from float. But Lunit did experience one of the biggest haircuts, with the group having to accept a 36% reduction in its original range.

The South Korean group is, however, in the hot space of AI-based medical software, and counts GE Healthcare and Philips among the companies it does business with, something that could account for its shares outperforming fellow debutants.

Although the new year is only weeks old, the factors that caused 2022's market volatility have not gone away. With many predicting a global recession, the options are shrinking for private medtech companies looking to take the next step in their development.

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