Tech Transformers

Tech firms will postpone IPOs: Nasdaq

Is the window shut for IPOs?

Technology start-ups looking to go public are likely to postpone their flotation until later this year as the market remains "tentative" amid volatility in asset prices, a top Nasdaq executive warned.

Adam Kostyál, senior vice president for European listings at Nasdaq, did however tell CNBC that there was still appetite for initial public offerings (IPO).

The Nasdaq billboard in Times Square, New York.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC

"There's many different signals, there's market signals, there's the appetite for IPOs which is stronger than...this time last year, so we have more filings than we had(last year)," Kostyál told CNBC at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Tuesday.

"(There's a) great appetite for IPOs but the market is tentative."

Nasdaq saw its worst year for technology IPOs in 2015 with just 28 flotations in the U.S., according to Dealogic. Much of this was driven by the availability of cash in the private market with 2015 becoming "a record-setting year" for venture capital, with over $128 billion of totalinvestment made worldwide, according to KPMG. This meant companies were opting to stay private for longer.

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But towards the end of 2015, the venture capital market slowed amid concern over valuations and investors warning about lofty prices of private tech start-ups.

The concern about valuations was driven by the public markets which saw IPOs from the likes of food delivery service Hello Fresh and French music streaming service Deezer pulled. Alongside this, investors wrote down their stakes in some companies in the private space including ephemeral messaging app Snapchat.

In this environment, Kostyál said technology firms thinking of going public may decide to hold off until later this year.

"I think it's more tricky, it's (IPO market) not shut. For a good company, it's always open so I think we have some good companies in the pipeline and they're definitely looking and eyeing the market, so I think...they are all IPO ready," Kostyál told CNBC.

"It's going to be more challenging, we'll probably see some more postponement into later in the year."