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IPOs at Lowest Level Since 2009: Report

Global IPO activity for the first quarter of 2012 fell to its lowest level since the second quarter of 2009, according to a new report from Ernst & Young.

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So far this quarter, a total of 157 deals have raised $14.3 billion, down by 69 percent from the same period last year, the report said.

“The first quarter is down. But keep in mind it’s a slow quarter traditionally,” Maria Pinelli, Global IPO leader at Ernst & Young, told CNBC.

“The question is: Where are deals not getting done? Let’s start on the high note. Deals are getting done in Europe. Europe has done very well this quarter - better than last quarter and on par with the first quarter of last year," she said.

Up until March 29, European stock exchanges raised $2.5 billion in 24 IPOs, E&Y said.

Much of the money was raised in two of the quarter’s largest listings, that of Dutch cable operator Ziggo, which listed on the NYSE Euronext Amsterdam exchange for $1.1 billion. Swiss market expansion services group, DKSH Holding, listed on the Swiss Exchange for $897 million.

“The largest deal this quarter demonstrates that as we move further into 2012, there is a greater confidence in the capital market and the trend is slowly shifting towards companies floating a smaller percentage of their equity,” said Pinelli.

The same can be said for the U.S. which saw 32 IPOs completed on U.S. stock exchanges that raised $4.8 billion.

“The U.S. is keeping up its momentum. In terms of the number of deals, they are strong, and have been keeping up with last year. Not in terms of capital raised, but with the number of IPOs coming out. Now that’s good for the U.S., as the U.S. doesn’t have large IPOs traditionally,” Pinelli told CNBC.

Deal activity in Asia disappointed, with only eight out of the 20 top IPOs taking place there, E&Y’s Global IPO Update stated.

Asia experienced a 74 percent drop in capital raised, compared to the first quarter of 2011.

The largest Asian IPO was the $794 million listing of China Communications Construction Co.on Shanghai stock exchanges.

“Where we saw activity fall tremendously was in Asia,” Pinelli told CNBC. “Asia was down over $2 billion in capital and down a number of deals."

“The first quarter of last year was a big, big quarter for Asia - Lots of large mega deals coming out. We still have great momentum in Asia, but not as large as we’ve seen in the past. So all eyes are on for the rest of 2012. The first quarter was a slow, slow quarter and the rest of the year really remains to be seen," she said.

IPOs in the technology sector were most abundant, especially in the U.S. According to E&Y, over one in five IPOs were from the technology sector.

“Technology IPOs remain very attractive to investors, who are actively looking for the right type of investment. In this environment, we expect to keep seeing big technology companies listing at home or abroad,” Pinelli said.

“The average market value for U.S. technology companies at the time of their IPO was double the average market value, compared to companies from other sectors. Also, interesting to note that these companies tended to sell smaller percentages of their shares (typically 10 -15 percent). We expect to see other sectors looking into that IPO strategy in 2012,” she added.