With Delilah Panio, VP of US Capital Formation at Toronto Stock Exchange.
Delilah Panio’s role as vice president of US capital formation for Toronto Stock Exchange and TSX Venture Exchange is to speak to chief executives and management teams of high growth US companies that are raising Series B capital and who might be ideal candidates for listing in Canada.
She spends time educating the ecosystem in the western US on funding options and how Toronto Stock Exchange and TSX Venture Exchange can give them access to public venture capital.
Delilah Panio, TSX
"Their ultimate goal may be to list on Nasdaq or the New York Stock Exchange and we are a very viable stepping stone for the right kind of company,” said Panio.
The US is known for its large and deep capital markets, but Panio argued that the Canadian exchange can provide an alternative to private venture capital options and typically allow companies to maintain greater control at an earlier stage by going public.
"The glamorization of getting venture capital has been a real disservice to companies as they ignore other potential options,” she added. “We are seeing some of that come off, especially in the tech space with the failure of Silicon Valley Bank, which is prompting CEOs to think about other options."
In March this year Silicon Valley Bank, which specialized in lending to US venture-backed technology and life science companies, collapsed after there was a run on the US bank and depositors rushed to withdraw their money.
Some of those key benefits of being a public company at an earlier stage, according to Panio, are access to permanent capital, acquisition currency, diversifying their shareholder base and the credibility of being on an internationally recognised stock exchange. Listing in Canada allows them to access a very diverse shareholder base including institutional investors, family offices and retail investors.
“One of the most powerful components of the Canadian capital markets is that we have a very robust and active retail investor base for smaller public companies,” said Panio. "This development of an infrastructure and regime in Canada that fully supports micro-cap companies is unique."
Canada is known for listing energy and mining companies and Panio said the exchange is very proud of this franchise. However in the last two decades there has been a significant growth in the innovation sector, which has become a significant source of new listings. This has included technology, clean energy, the cannabis boom, eSports and gaming, and agtech - typically the latest emerging sector that is trending for investors.
"The number of new listings is certainly impacted by the global marketplace,” said Panio. “In the past, an average of 12 to 15 US companies listed on TSX and TSXV each year. In 2021 we had a record 25 and even last year, despite the tough market, 18 US companies listed."
In February this year TSX Venture Exchange released its 2023 Venture 50, ranking issuers across five sectors: energy, mining, clean technology and life sciences, diversified industries, and technology.
Loui Anastasopoulos, TSX
Loui Anastasopoulos, chief executive of Toronto Stock Exchange and global head of capital formation at TMX Group , said in a statement: "The 2023 Venture 50 includes companies from across Canada as well as nine international issuers, reflecting the impressive global reach of our venture markets as we continue to broaden and diversify our dynamic ecosystem.”
Sigma Lithium, a Brazilian mining company, led the Venture 50 list with a 250% market capitalization increase and a 193% increase in its share price last year, with issuers from the Netherlands and several American states also in international contingent
Panio continued that there is definitely no shortage of companies in the US that are interested in exploring the option to list on TSX and TSX Venture Exchange.
“It is our job to help them get ready for when markets open again,” added Panio. “When this happens, companies are likely to need proof of concept and traction as investors are more measured and looking for revenue."
The average market cap of TSX-listed companies is C$1.5bn to C$2bn, but for TSX Venture companies it is closer to C$100m. As companies grow they can graduate to TSX and this happens consistently each year according to Panio. Approximately 20% of companies in the S&P/TSX Composite Index started on TSX Venture Exchange, which Panio described as the sign of a successful incubator.
In total about 40% of TSX trading comes from outside Canada. Panio said more international companies are coming to TSX as a gateway to North American capital, as they ultimately want to list on a senior US exchange.
“The number of companies that dual list on Nasdaq or New York is also very impressive and we had a record in 2021,” added Panio.
Funding for women
Panio is very passionate about increasing funding for women-led companies. She explains that across the globe there is a funding gap for women at every level of the ecosystem - from women-led IPOs to traditional loans to angel investment, where they do not have friends and family money to help them get started, especially for women of color.
The lack of women is also a challenge in the capital markets where there are few women in any part of the ecosystem. When Panio thinks about all the investment bankers that she works with in Canada, she can think of very few that are women.
"Investors say that they want to see more women on boards and they statistically outperform,” Panio added. “The reality is that for a woman to become the CEO of a public company, she has had to be a rock star her whole career."
As a result Panio founded consulting firm Fortuna Funding to work with early-stage companies on their business and funding strategy and on getting investor-ready.
“I do a lot at all levels of the ecosystem to educate women on how to get funding,’ she said. “Investors are missing out on incredible companies as women are great at creating companies that the world really needs.”
She also co-founded a non-profit, We Are Enough, that will be launching a global campaign this year to educate women on why and how to invest in women-led businesses or with a gender lens in the public markets.
“The practical reality is that people invest in who and what they know, so for more women to get funded, more women to write the checks," said Panio. “Women can make a huge impact because I believe that if women have equal access to capital this will change the world.”