TORONTO, Oct 6 (Reuters) - The value of Canadian equity issues reached its strongest-ever level in the first nine months of 2016, driven by large transactions in the energy sector, according to Thomson Reuters data released on Thursday.
A modest improvement in commodity prices allowed energy and mining companies to tap equity markets and raise capital during periods of relative market stability.
The worth of equity issues reached C$38.8 billion ($29.38 billion) this year through September, topping the C$35.7 billon that was raised last year at that point, numbers from Thomson Reuters showed. It also surpassed C$35.9 billion of equity issuance for the same period in 2009, the previous record.
The figures reflect totals for initial public offerings and secondary issues.
Ranked by the value of equity financing deals, the three top advisers were Toronto Dominion Bank, Royal Bank of Canada and Bank of Montreal. CIBC Capital Markets, Bank of Nova Scotia and National Bank of Canada rounded out the top six.
Natural gas producer Encana Corp's C$1.3 billion stock issue was the biggest deal of the third quarter. Credit Suisse and JPMorgan were the advisers.
"This year has been exceptional for equity issuance. We've seen an unprecedented level of activity in the last eight to nine months," said Benoit Lauzé, CIBC's head of equity capital markets.
Natural resource companies saw an opportunity in a rebound in commodity prices to raise equity, and they did it to strengthen balance sheets and make acquisitions.
"Acquisition-driven financing will continue to be a big theme," said Derek Neldner, RBC's head of Canadian investment banking.
The volatility in commodity prices and the uncertainty due to geopolitical shocks such as Brexit dampened the appetite for IPOs, investment bankers said.
Fashion retailer Aritzia Inc was the only initial public offering of at least C$5 million to hit the market this year, Thomson Reuters data shows. CIBC, Merrill Lynch Canada and TD were the lead advisers on the deal.
"The U.S. IPO market has started to accelerate," Neldner said, suggesting that the sentiment could spill over into Canada. "There are more (Canadian) issuers looking at 2017."
$1 = 1.3206 Canadian dollars Reporting by John Tilak Editing by W Simon