As the Startup Nation, Israel frequently has companies going public on Nasdaq or the New York Stock Exchange.
Most recently, Israel-based plant-genomics company Evogene held an IPO on the New York Stock Exchange, raising $74 million at a company valuation of $365 million, followed by an additional $10.6 million from its book running managers, bringing its total to over $84 million.
But there is more to a story than numbers. What really goes on behind the scenes of an IPO?
According to Assaf Oron, Evogene’s Executive Vice President of Strategy and Business Development, it involves unexpected terms like “roadshow” and “performances,” as well as grabbing quick bites in the car (fortunately limos) on the way to endless meetings across the United States.
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Not unlike rock stars, the company executives are flown and chauffeured from place to place to meet investors.
“The American IPO industry is highly efficient,” Oron tells NoCamels. “It is a well-oiled machine, in which the book-running managers at the helm organize frequent meetings with relevant investors that have the potential of investing in a company in our sector and with the growth prospects that Evogene has.”
“It’s an exhausting yet extremely interesting journey,” Oron tells NoCamels. “The day starts by entering the car at 7:00am and hectically running from meeting to meeting, when usually we only eat sandwiches in the car. In the evenings, we reach the airport and fly to our next destinations. We did that in Boston, Philadelphia, Kansas, Denver, San Francisco, New York and Chicago,” he says.
“The meetings are short and intensive. In most meetings, I feel as if I’m sitting across people who are extremely sharp and are very knowledgeable about the industry we operate in,” Oron says. The meetings were a testament to the fact that there is a growing interest in the field of agriculture from investors and there’s a real thirst for innovative companies,” he told NoCamels.
Evogene is neither the first nor the last Israeli company to hold an IPO in the US and recently, it seems as if Israeli companies are going public left and right. However, this is a double-edged sword, since not all companies meet their marks.
“We were fortunate for doing the roadshow at a time when the capital markets were relatively favorable, but the process is very challenging.”
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Oron explains that the fact that Evogene is part of the narrow field of agriculture technology contributed to its success.
Headquartered in Rehovot, Israel, Evogene has been in operation since 2002. Since there is a huge agricultural industry in the US, Oron says Evogene’s field of expertise is of high value there.
“The American investment community is well versed in the agriculture industry and as such understands the future growth drivers Evogene represents, either by continuing to expand our seed trait activities to areas such as insect resistance and diseases or the opportunity we have in agriculture-chemicals such as the field of herbicides,” he says.
Evogene responds to one of the biggest challenges the world is facing today how to produce more food, feed and fuel while the global resources are limited. The company specializes in creating improved plant traits, such as yield and drought tolerance, for a wide diversity of key crops through the use of plant genomics.
Basically, Evogene creates “genetic recipes” for different traits of plants and then licenses those genes to the world-leading seed companies, such as Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer and Dupont for further validation and commercialization.
Critics of genetically modified crops, however, say numerous studies have shown that genetically modified crops are damaging and add that the solutions lie elsewhere.
On Thursday November 21st, Evogene was the company ringing the bell to start the day of trade at the New York Stock Exchange. At the conclusion of their IPO, they passed their goal and reaffirmed their status as one of the leading plant genomics companies in the world.
Assaf Oron is Evogene’s EVP strategy and Business development and has been with the company for the past seven years.