Hong Kong takes global crown for IPO volumes

A flurry of initial public offerings (IPOs) in Hong Kong propelled the financial centre to first place for IPO volumes globally, but next year is unlikely to see as many big-ticket listings.
Companies raised a total of $36.3 billion in Hong Kong listings this year, well ahead of New York Stock Exchange’s $28.9 billion, and a 174 per cent increase on year-on-year, according to Refinitiv data.
That is Hong Kong’s best year since 2010, as a change in listing rules to allow dual-class share structures and pre-revenue biotech companies to list led to a queue of so-called new economy companies seeking to go public in the city.
Hong Kong hosted three of Asia’s top five IPOs — smartphone maker Xiaomi’s $5.4 billion float, mobile telecommunications tower operator China Tower’s $7.5 billion IPO and online food delivery-to-ticketing services firm Meituan Dianping’s $4.9 billion listing.
Across Asia, companies raised a total of $109 billion in IPOs, up 27 per cent from 2017, Refinitiv data showed, much of it driven by China whose companies accounted for almost a third of global issuers.
But bankers do not expect the same number of multi-billion dollar deals next year, or even the same volumes, as supply begins to thin and market volatility makes going public less appealing.
Some of the big-ticket candidates being mooted include Chinese wealth management platform Lufax, the owner of China’s leading news aggregator Beijing Bytedance Technology Co and Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing Technology Co Ltd — although bankers say they could also come in 2020.
“Given the early market receptivity, many IPOs came to market earlier than anticipated,” said Aaron Arth, Head of Financing Group, Asia ex-Japan, at Goldman Sachs. “2019 will still be a pretty big year for ECM (equity capital markets), it’s just not going to be at the magnitude of 2018.”
But while IPO volumes surged in 2018, performance went in the opposite direction, as markets were buffeted by US-China trade tensions and macroeconomic uncertainty.
Chinese shares have been particularly badly hit, with the Shanghai Composite Index down 23 per cent and the Hong Kong benchmark down 14 per cent this year.
In Hong Kong many new listings have slumped below their IPO prices and posted the worst performance among leading bourses.
And across Asia, all of the top five IPOs bar one — China Tower — have sunk below their offer prices.
That includes Xiaomi, Meituan Dianping, SoftBank Corp —which was the world’s second-biggest IPO to date — and Foxconn Industrial Internet. — Reuters