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Wall Street prepares for IPO resurgence

The public market cooled for IPO offerings to begin 2016, but a spate of hot tech companies changed that.

After spending the first half of the year in slow motion, initial public offerings are expected to take off this fall.

It's something Wall Street has been waiting on for a while now. Bankers have spent months with IPO pipelines backed up, and markets' resurgence have dealmakers licking their chops at what may well be an offering frenzy. It means that dozens of companies can hit public markets globally, across sectors including health care, technology and retail.

"At JPMorgan, we expect to launch 20-plus IPOs globally in September," said Liz Myers, global head of equity capital markets at the bank. "The IPO market has rebounded post-Brexit."

As of the end of last week, a mere 59 U.S. IPOs went to market in 2016, putting this year behind every year except 2008 and 2009 over the last decade. The value of 2016's IPO load (at around $12.5 billion) also represents the smallest dollar amount of stock issued since 2009.

Or put another way, it hasn't been a good year for the IPO market.

That's about to change.

Spurred on by the successes of recent IPOs, including cloud technology company Twilio in June and messaging app Line in July, companies that have had their applications shelved since as far back as Christmas have hurriedly readied paperwork for regulators to make their market debuts. And each stock has taken off in the time since its respective market debut.

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It is expected more technology companies will file plans with the Securities and Exchange Commission, permitted under the Jobs Act. Signed into law in 2012, the Jobs Act allows companies with under $1 billion in revenue to file confidential IPO plans, which they must make public several weeks before the road show begins. In 2016, the late-stage funding market for start-ups has cooled, pushing some companies toward the IPO window — which, at long last, is expected to fully open after Labor Day, three sources said.

But just because a hot tech start-up has filed for an IPO doesn't mean it's going public. One IPO advisor noted that many of the companies are pursuing dual-track processes, meaning that they are considering selling the company via an M&A deal at the same time they weigh a public market debut.

"It is very common that companies will go the dual-track" route, said Deloitte managing director Sandy Pfeffer, who leads its advisory IPO team. "We have some clients who floated interest [in M&A] and didn't receive the pricing levels they wanted."

One of the hottest sectors is technology, and IPO advisors are expecting a number of tech IPOs in the U.S. for the rest of the year.

"IPO performance has been very strong, driving further investor interest," said Michael Millman, JPMorgan's global head of technology banking and co-head of equity capital markets for the Americas.

Despite the recent rush to the exits, other bankers said they don't expect some of the biggest start-ups on the private market, like Uber or Airbnb, to file IPO paperwork soon.

One Silicon Valley banker said numerous tech start-ups already have confidential IPO paperwork submitted to the SEC that will soon be made public. The banker, who asked to not be quoted directly, said the offerings have been a long time coming, with some coming up on their one-year anniversary. Monday, Bloomberg reported software firm Nutanix is preparing a road show for a public offering in September, putting an IPO back on track that had been delayed since late 2015.

"Several of these deals we started working on a year ago or more," the banker said.

Correction: This story was revised to correct the spelling of Sandy Pfeffer's last name.