Bentley raises IPO prospect again

Bentley logo 2017On Friday 21 August 2020, US-based engineering design and collaboration software-as-a-service vendor Bentley Systems announced it had filed a registration statement with the US Securities and Exchange Commission for a proposed initial public offering (IPO) of its Class B common stock. The shares of Class B common stock to be sold in the offering will be sold by existing stockholders of Bentley. The number of shares to be offered and the price range for the offering have not yet been determined (though a figure of US$800m has been bandied about). Bentley said it intends to list its shares on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the symbol “BSY”.

Monica Schnitger has written a quick note summarising her initial analysis of the offering.

Since 2016, Bentley has been cultivating a strategic relationship with Germany’s Siemens (post). The company had built a 9% holding in Bentley’s voting stock by early 2018 (post).

The latest Bentley announcement follows a registration statement tabled in February (13 February 2020 press release) – the same day as Schneider Electric announced a €1.4 billion (c. £1.16 billion or US$1.52 billon) bid for RIB Software – since completed. Also in February, California, US-based construction collaboration SaaS technology provider Procore also filed registration documents with the SEC for an IPO of its common stock (news release) just before the COVID-19 pandemic sent financial markets plunging (Procore IPO in for prolonged coronavirus lockdown?).

Technology response to COVID-19

Construction was also pushed into a widespread lockdown across most developed economies, with governments spending billions to keep businesses and projects alive (UK construction firms claimed £2.9 bn in furlough support up to 31 July). Most projects have, however, resumed – helped by the 1000s of businesses who have used technologies to enable digital remote working. In the UK, for example, a recent Construction News report said technology has “proved key in the crisis,” citing use of generic video conferencing tools such as Zoom and Teams as well as industry-specific tools such as Autodesk’s Plangrid, Procore and a Norwegian construction management application Fonn. But site-based safety precautions have continued to affect construction productivity and, facing a recession, a growing number of UK construction firms have been making redundancies. So, while the value of construction technology has proved key, it is by no means certain that it can entirely mitigate the continued economic impacts of the pandemic across the sector.

Procore report graphic

(Procore has published a report on the Future of Work based on a survey of 250 UK construction managers.)

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