On its listing day, Optomed gained visibility in Times Square, New York.

IPO’s: Funding for the next growth phase

A well-functioning stock exchange is an important economic structure that enables companies to obtain growth financing. Tesi supports Finnish growth companies in their IPOs. In 2019, Tesi was involved in the IPOs of LeadDesk, Relais Group and Optomed.

Sari Lounasmeri, President & CEO of the Finnish Foundation for Share Promotion, believes a well-functioning stock exchange is essential for two reasons:

It’s interesting that active owners instil responsibility in companies without the state needing to intervene.

SARI LOUNASMERI /
CEO, PÖRSSISÄÄTIÖ

“Firstly, for financing companies’ growth. In earlier days, companies mainly resorted to bank loans for financing. After the financial crisis, though, regulation was introduced that increased the capital that companies seeking a loan need to pledge as security. Mature owners do not always have sufficient funds for financing a spurt in growth, so new owners are needed. Now a company can raise these funds by listing on the stock exchange,” she says.

“The second reason is enabling ownership,” she says. “Nowadays, Finns are more eager to invest in shares to grow their savings. Companies can also raise financing through, for instance, crowdsourcing, but a stock exchange is a more reliable and safer trading platform. Companies intending to list must meet certain criteria that are scrutinised and approved by the stock exchange. Stock exchange regulations safeguard small investors,” adds Lounasmeri.

Lounasmeri believes that Finnish society as a whole will benefit from as many Finns as possible owning shares of Finnish companies. At present, over 800,000 Finns own shares in their own name.

SMALL INVESTORS FOSTER GROWTH AND RESPONSIBILITY. When companies obtain financing for innovative business ideas, they can expand their operations and employ more people. More jobs generate more tax revenues. A stock exchange can thus be regarded as a basic social structure.

“In Sweden, companies list on the stock exchange at rather an early stage. Swedes recognise that small investors becoming owners often promotes a company’s growth, because they are ambitious and want a good return on their investment. Small investors are often also more conscious of responsibility and encourage companies to address environmental issues in the solutions they offer,” Lounasmeri says.

In autumn 2019, the European Central Bank published a comparison of European countries’ carbon dioxide emissions per capita in relation to their levels of equity funding. It showed that the higher the proportion of funding coming from shareholders, the lower were the carbon dioxide emissions per capita.

“It’s interesting that active owners instil responsibility in companies without the state needing to intervene,” comments Lounasmeri.



TESI SUPPORTS COMPANIES IN IPO’s. Tesi supports Finnish companies in IPOs by sparring with them. Listing is a good option for raising growth capital, and being a listed company in many ways supports a company as it grows.

Keith Bonnici Tesi

Listed companies gain a lot of visibility, which facilitates the recruitment of skilled advisers, board members and personnel.

KEITH BONNICI /  
INVESTMENT DIRECTOR, TESI

“Acquisitions, for instance, are easier when the share price is known, and a share swap can be used as financing. Moreover, the interest on debt financing is often lower for a listed company than for an unlisted one,” Tesi’s Investment Director Keith Bonnici points out.

The alternative to listing is often selling the company. If the company is sold and only its subsidiary remains in Finland, the best jobs and tax revenues move abroad. Listing enables continuation of Finnish ownership while still allowing the company to grow. The head office in that case generally stays.

“Neither can the communications perspective be overemphasised: listed companies gain a lot of visibility, which facilitates the recruitment of skilled advisers, board members and personnel,” says Bonnici.

Listing enhances a company’s credibility and can even open doors to certain markets. In the health technology sector, for example, listing can give an important boost to credibility.

Tesi discusses the listing option with its portfolio companies at the outset and helps them, as needed, to develop their activities to the level required by stock exchange regulations. This support speeds up development and eliminates fears of listing.

In 2019, Tesi’s portfolio companies LeadDesk and Optomed listed on the stock exchange. In addition, Tesi was an anchor investor in Relais Group’s IPO.

INVOLVEMENT IN OTHER M&As. Tesi has solid experience of IPOs, and many of its portfolio companies have grown through acquisitions also. Tesi plans to utilise this expertise more widely in future.

“When the goal is to create impressive growth stories, acquisitions are often the next step after listing. Listing improves the opportunities for acquisitions because becoming a part of a listed company’s growth story can be an attractive proposition,” Bonnici says.

IPO PROVIDES OPTOMED WITH FUEL TO POWER GROWTH. Health technology pioneer Optomed received gross proceeds of €20 million from its IPO and gained 2,300 new owners. The company’s motive for listing was specifically to raise funds for the next growth phase.

We’ll use the capital we’ve raised to expand geographically and also to commercialise our new, AI-based, solution.

SEPPO KOPSALA /  
CEO, OPTOMED

“Listing gives us visibility and improves our credibility in the eyes of both investors and customers. We’ll use the capital we’ve raised to expand geographically and also to commercialise our new, AI-based, comprehensive eye-screening solution. At present, we have a market presence in over 60 countries through our distribution network and OEM customers. Our strategy is to expand into both new geographical markets and new customer segments,” says Optomed’s founder and CEO Seppo Kopsala.

IMPROVED EYE HEALTH FOR MANY MORE. Optomed manufactures small, lightweight, handheld fundus cameras and associated software solutions for screening of eye diseases. The company’s goal is to make eye screening available at primary healthcare units. That would provide faster treatment for changes in the retina that are caused, for instance, by diabetes, thus preventing loss of sight. Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of vision loss in working age population.

“There are other companies beside us that manufacture fundus cameras but integrating artificial intelligence in image interpretation into handheld fundus cameras opens up huge new business opportunities,” Kopsala explains.

Optomed spent eighteen months preparing for its IPO by beefing up its governance, creating the necessary processes and enhancing its communications to meet stock exchange standards. Optomed’s operations are already responsible per se, because the company is aiming to bring better eye health within reach of more people.


 

Read more about Optomed on Tesi’s Dare to Grow website.