North America Equity House: JP Morgan

IFR Awards 2023
5 min read
Anthony Hughes

Diving for treasure

For demonstrating the breadth and consistency of its ECM platform, leading a partial recovery in the US IPO market and executing the most follow-on stock sales, JP Morgan is IFR’s North America Equity House of the Year.

Equity capital markets comes second nature to JP Morgan, aided by its nearly US$4trn balance sheet and the lending relationships that ensure the bank often gets a front-row seat when corporate clients need equity.

But the US banking titan brought more to the table in 2023 than its ultra-deep pockets, applying its well-honed execution skills to grab the number one spot for US-listed IPOs and maintain its leadership position in equity issuance across key sectors.

JP Morgan was the only bank to carve out an active/top-tier bookrunner role on each of the five largest IPOs of the year – the debuts of chip designer Arm Holdings (proceeds of US$5.2bn in September), consumer health products company Kenvue (US$4.4bn in May), sandal maker Birkenstock (US$1.48bn in October), solar equipment maker Nextracker (US$734.2m in February) and grocery delivery firm Instacart (US$660m in September).

The bank was not just in it for the ride, though, and played the coveted stabilisation role on Arm, Kenvue and Nextracker and collected the most fees on these trophy deals.

In yet another year that bore out the bank’s resilience, the backdrop for syndicate desks was a tricky one with interest rate rises followed in the final months of the year by second-guessing when the US Federal Reserve might turn dovish. The long hangover of losses from 2021’s IPO splurge and a window-driven market also required careful attention to timing and deal structures.

JP Morgan was central to much of the nuanced decision-making around those issues.

“Investors had real alternatives in terms of capital allocation given the rate environment and continued volatility in growth equities,” said Lorenzo Soler, JP Morgan’s global head of equity syndicate. “We saw IPO volumes that remained muted but improved year over year, as well as increased secondary and convertible activity.”

JP Morgan acted as a bookrunner on 14 US-listed IPOs with US$2.84bn of apportioned credit, more by number than any other bank, with nearly half of all IPOs completed during the year and edging out Goldman Sachs (12 for US$2.82bn), according to LSEG data.

JP Morgan also had a strong showing in the healthcare/life sciences sector, leading the debuts of RayzeBio, Cargo Therapeutics, Neumora Therapeutics and Lexeo Therapeutics.

The bank’s pervasive presence similarly meant it was at the forefront of one of the biggest trends in the US IPO market in 2023: the reliance of most of the year’s big IPOs on cornerstone or anchor investors to provide third-party endorsement and derisk execution.

“When it comes to allocating the IPO, one of the key challenges is striking a balance between concentrating to anchor investors and also seeding others with enough stock to incentivise them to grow their positions over the coming quarters,” Soler said.

Though the bank was in second place behind Goldman on the US combined equity league table (IPOs and follow-ons), JP Morgan led 108 offerings, considerably more than Goldman’s next best 93.

On the follow-on front, JP Morgan led a trio of selldowns in June, November and December of American International Group’s legacy stake in life insurer Corebridge Financial (a 2022 IPO also led by JP Morgan).

The bank also co-led private equity firm Clayton Dubilier & Rice’s US$2bn sale in May of shares in healthcare firm Agilon Health, as well as a US$1.1bn global follow-on offering by Euronext/Nasdaq-listed autoimmune disease-focused biotech Argenx in July.

It handled no less than four block selldowns of CD&R’s large legacy stake in water pipe distributor Core & Main, delivering roughly US$1.5bn of proceeds to the private equity firm at regular intervals.

“Our market share and standing with companies and investors remained exceptionally high. We were in a leadership position on the largest and most significant transactions of the year,” Soler said.

The year was also one of change in the top ranks of JP Morgan’s ECM business.

Keith Canton, previously the head of the bank’s private capital markets effort, became head of Americas ECM in March.

Soler was elevated from Americas equity syndicate head to global syndicate head in May, while former TD Cowen banker Jason Doneger is poised to take on Soler’s old role.

To see the digital version of this report, please click here

To purchase printed copies or a PDF of this report, please email in Asia Pacific & Middle East and for Europe & Americas.