PharmEasy may delay IPO in the face of a volatile market

In the wake of underperforming startup IPOs, PharmEasy is considering changing their IPO plans to achieve their hopeful public valuation of $7-8 billion.
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2022 is projected to be the year of multiple startup IPOs, but healthtech unicorn Pharmeasy may have to restructure its initial public offering (IPO) plan with the change in market interest.

While the company is unwilling to discuss their valuation before final clearance of their listing by the market regulator — Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), the pre-listing grey market indicators portray a difficult path forward.

According to a report in the Economic Times, the market uncertainty around new IPOs in the last few months has led to investors reducing their interest in the grey market. While PharmEasy shares were trading at over Rs 100 apiece earlier this year, they are currently being traded in the rane of Rs 70-80 a share.

An unnamed source told ET, "“It (grey market pricing) signals the current nervousness on tech IPOs and valuations. Before Paytm IPO, PharmEasy's secondary shares were available at Rs 120-130 as well.”

PharmEasy's latest funding round valued the company at around $5.4 billion, and they were looking to increase that valuation to around $7-8 billion with their public listing. According to the same ET report, their IPO plans may be hit by the fact that they are only issuing a primary share sales, and doesn't have an OFS (offer for sale) component.

In case of primary share sales the company creates a new set of shares to be offered to the market, thereby diluting the holdings of all current investors. An OFS is when exisiting shareholders of the company offer some, or all, of their existing shares for sale.

Companies can use an OFS as a simpler process to increase their valuation, based on investor trust in the promoters. In case of Zomato , Info Edge (India) had tendered shares worth Rs 375 crore through the OFS route.

On the other hand, Paytmoperator - One97 Communications' IPO in November last year involved a primary share sale of Rs 8,300 crore while the OFS was for Rs 10,000 crore.

Among the tech startups that have queued up for IPO during 2022, Oyo and Delhivery, both have an OFS component.

Despite the current market volatility, PharmEasy still has strong fundamentals in place. According to a report by Berstein Research, PharmEasy has 50 percent market share in online pharmacy GMV (gross merchandise value) with Tata's 1MG only cornering around 16 percent in the second place.

It is estimated that PharmEasy will have a GMV of $1 billion by FY 2025, or 25 percent of the projected $4 billion online pharmacy market.

Edited by Rajiv Bhuva