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After six turbulent months, there's good news for Wall Street banks, and there's bad news.
The good news first: it's likely getting better. Of course, that comes as big banks try to rebound from the bad news: It's been the worst start to a year, on a number of metrics, since the global financial crisis.
Bankers say that despite the shock Brexit vote in late June, there are more corporate buyers weighing big M&A deals and more companies eyeing the IPO window after seeing signs of life in the U.S. market. Now, some market watchers have become hopeful that there will be more public offerings in the back half of 2016, and more big deals to prop up big banks' top lines.
If investor wariness is pushing cash out of international markets, there's hope that an influx of investment into the U.S. will foster more IPOs.
"It is easier for companies to get public when mutual funds have positive cash flows," said Lise Buyer, partner with Class V Group, which works with pre-initial public offering start-ups. "You don't have to be profitable, you have to paint a compelling picture of why you will be."
The bad news is that IPO revenue for big banks is down to a level not seen since 2009, coming in the wake of the global financial crisis, according to data from Dealogic.
But that said, revenue to big banks on IPOs more than doubled from the first quarter to the second quarter of this year, Dealogic data indicates, rising from $405 million to $1 billion. And, recently, some market bulls have pointed to upbeat metrics, despite the turmoil that closed out the second quarter.
And all of a sudden, there seems to be a big turning of the tide in terms of private companies' sentiments regarding public markets. On Tuesday, snack maker Hostess charted its ambitions to complete its post-bankruptcy turnaround, announcing plans to make a public market debut through a reverse merger with a listed acquisition company. Also this week, the Wall Street Journal reported that iPhone production company Foxconn Interconnect Technology is aiming to raise up to $1 billion in an offering of its own.
All of this comes on the heels of the runaway success of software company Twilo's initial public offering, which saw shares shoot up after its late June market debut.
Separately, there are signs that M&A may finally take off. After seeing a record number of transactions busted up by Washington regulators, big banks are probably reassured to see more mega-deals being considered by corporate boards. Blockbuster M&A deals including Bayer's bid to buy out Monsanto could be followed by other large-scale mergers in sectors including pharmaceuticals, one banker said.
Part of what might be pushing corporate boards to weigh big purchases is the cheap debt expected to proliferate in the 2016 market, thanks to central bankers' unease with raising rates in the immediate wake of June's Brexit vote. And, elsewhere in the deal marketplace, bankers think that stalling Silicon Valley valuations could also push once-hot start-ups to consider selling out if the right offer arrives.
"In a post-Brexit world and a better but still discerning IPO market, you will see seller capitulation that results in accelerating tech M&A, including a few unicorns," said Elgin Thompson, managing director at Digital Capital Advisors.