Anticipating a 2024 IPO revival: gearing up for the bounce-back

Kate Huggins, Nicola Lake 31 Jan 2024

The letters IPO on a yellow sign on a blue sky backdrop

It has been well documented that the IPO market had a quiet 2023 due to market volatility, with activity down for the second year running. The second half of 2024 predicts an anticipated uptick in activity. As the economic outlook improves, debt markets are becoming less unstable and with interest rates declining, private equity firms, in particular, are more readily in position to deploy the capital they have built up. We feel confident that the IPO market looks set to pick up once again.

With the excitement of viewing the IPO as an attractive tool to yield returns, and the financial advantages of going public, also comes increased regulatory pressure. As stakeholders look to maximise returns, the importance of a strong governance framework underpinning an organization becomes ever more important.

As the expected surge in IPO activity looms, the demand for strategic leadership and specialized talent is likely to intensify. As market confidence rebounds in 2024 and the next wave of IPOs gains momentum, forward-thinking about the right leadership will become crucial to ensure you stand out from the crowd in a competitive market.

Don’t forget the general counsel and company secretary


When building an IPO-ready team, it’s common to prioritize the deal itself rather than considering the post-IPO reality of operating as a public company, subject to increased external scrutiny.

Putting in place a strong general counsel and company secretary before the deal will not only add value but also set the stage for success after the deal is finalized. This ensures that you are bringing not only an understanding of the crucial elements for an efficient process but also an appreciation for governance, laying the foundation for effectively running a listed company in the future.

After the IPO, the role of the general counsel and company secretary becomes central to establishing and maintaining governance and securities compliance. They play a pivotal role in supporting the chair and the board, ensuring alignment with the vision and values of the business.

Regardless of whether it’s a permanent or interim appointment, companies should prioritize attracting the best possible candidate to the role. In the pre-float phase, where the decision for an IPO is not finalized, opting for an interim appointment can be a prudent choice. This model has proven to be effective, with many IPOs in 2022 and 2023 leveraging interim resources across some of their corporate function roles. However, organizations making interim appointments must be mindful of the increased scrutiny faced as a public limited company from a governance perspective post-float.

Identifying the right hire

As you start thinking about your checklist for the IPO journey, have you secured the right legal and corporate governance expertise? Whether opting for a combined general counsel and company secretary role or distinct functions, ensuring a robust foundation of governance expertise at the start of the IPO journey is imperative.

Exceptional IPO teams are those with a governance role at the top table. As we support our clients in building their IPO dream teams, we seek:

  • Skilled change agents, adept at navigating and mitigating material risk within a fast-paced and dynamic environment
  • Hands-on professionals with a diverse range of experience and skills encompassing M&A, litigation, employment and regulatory matters, and at ease operating in smaller legal functions
  • Individuals with a proven track record of enhancing business performance, acting as facilitators, and having a commercial mindset with a focus on value creation
  • Gravitas paired with the ability to cultivate relationships with executive leadership and investors
  • Ability to act as a confidant and adviser, employing a communication style that translates complex issues into clear business language
  • Exceptional emotional intelligence, confident managing conflicting interests and a diverse range of stakeholders
4 paper cut outs of people, two blue, one yellow

What we look for

  • Strategic thinker

    Think broadly and differently, able to create long-term plans and bring a strategic perspective to problem solving

  • Influencing skills

    Ability to challenge and influence at board and executive level. Act as an adviser. Excellent EQ and relationship building skills

  • Commercial

    Understanding commercial issues to enable business performance and drive value creation. Strong communication skills

  • Leadership

    Mentor and grow high performing teams to deliver for the business. Can lead from the front and build a collegiate function

  • Problem solver

    Comfortable being hands-on and with a breadth of legal skills to solve problems and run projects, without the need to delegate to junior members

  • Change agent

    Can navigate and mitigate material risk within a fast paced and dynamic environment as well as innovate and drive change to improve performance

Meet the team

photo of Kate Huggins

Kate Huggins

Kate co-leads the firm’s global legal, risk and compliance practice and plays a leading role in General Counsel and Company Secretary searches. In addition, she manages Leathwaite’s due diligence business globally. Based from London, Kate works closely with publicly quoted,…

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Nicola Lake

Nicola is a senior associate within Leathwaite’s Professional Services Practice. She supports clients with partner-level executive search, senior functional mandates and due diligence both in the UK and also internationally. Prior to joining Leathwaite Nicola was a Research Associate working…

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