vancouver downtown skyline with mountains

Capital-raising activity in British Columbia soared last year, with both public market and exempt market fundraising seeing strong growth, according to a new report from the B.C. Securities Commission (BCSC).

The provincial regulator reported that total capital raising activity in B.C. surged by 29% in 2020 to $135.45 billion (including capital raised by B.C.-based companies and funds and capital raised from B.C. investors by out-of-province funds and companies).

Corporate financing activity jumped 37% compared with the previous year, and investment fund activity rose by 23%.

In total, companies raised almost $59 billion during the year, up from $43.1 billion in 2019.

Private placements continued to outpace public market activity, with $31.5 billion raised in the exempt market to $27.5 billion in prospectus offerings.

B.C.-based companies alone raised $23.6 billion during the year, up 38% from the previous year, the BCSC reported. The total market cap for B.C.-based companies rose by 47% during the year to $286 billion.

“Not only did B.C. public companies finish the year with a record market capitalization, they also reported record capital-raising, including filing a record number of prospectuses with the BCSC,” said John Hinze, director of corporate finance at the BCSC, in a release.

The mining sector led the way, accounting for over one third of the capital raising activity by B.C.-based companies in 2020, with $8.1 billion in total capital raised during the year.

The province also saw activity increase in the tech and biotech sectors, while the cannabis business plunged, as capital raising activity in the sector fell 67% to $0.67 billion.

Alongside the record-setting year for companies, investment funds raised $76.5 billion during the year (including both B.C.-based funds and non-B.C. funds), up from $61.9 billion in 2019.

Unlike the corporate sector, more capital is raised under prospectus on the investment fund side. In 2020, funds raised $54.4 billion under prospectus and $22.1 billion in private placements.

Looking solely at B.C.-based funds however, capital raising declined by 9% last year to $7.6 billion, the report noted.