HK’s capital market can expect a robust pipeline of midsize IPOs this year, says one of the city’s top bookrunners

18-Jan-2020 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:02 AM Print This Post

Hong Kong’s capital market, which ranked top in global initial public offerings (IPOs) in 2019 for the eighth time in 11 years, can expect a “robust pipeline” of deals this year as multinational corporations mull secondary listings, said one of the city’s top bookrunners.

The typical deal size this year will range anywhere from $200 million to $2 billion, considerably smaller than Alibaba Group Holding’s $13.9 billion secondary listing that gave Hong Kong the 11-month push past the finishing line to snatch last year’s IPO crown from New York, said Citigroup Hong Kong’s head of corporate and investment banking Christopher Laskowski.

“It’ll be a robust pipeline for 2020″ with “no shortage of deals,” Laskowski said in an interview during the Hong Kong Venture Capital and Private Equity Association’s conference with South China Morning Post, wholly owned by Alibaba. “Citi is working on at least 10 of these deals in which we are the lead bookrunners.”

The frenetic activity will be a boon for a city on its way to the first technical recession in a decade, as seven months of unprecedented political crisis and a year-long US-China trade war have put the squeeze on the local economy. Still, Hong Kong’s capital market and the city’s pegged currency have withstood the headwinds from the slump, which have crimped everything else from retail sales and property prices to corporate expansion and investments.

It’ll also keep Citi third among Hong Kong’s bookrunners with an estimated $3.08 billion raised by 13 IPOs last year according to Refinitiv data busy. The US bank was ranked eighth as an arranger of capital raising by Chinese companies, leading five IPOs in raising an estimated $195.4 million.

The upcoming IPO trend will be bifurcated, with technology companies, start-ups and internet-related companies making a beeline for the US market where their business models are better understood by US investors, while companies that draw on China’s population list closer to home in Hong Kong, Laskowski said.

“Hong Kong investors understand the retail and the consumer sector better, as they understand the Chinese consumers’ mindset,” he said, adding that five of the deals Citi is working on are slated for Hong Kong, while the rest are heading for the US.

Amid the temporary respite in the US-China trade war following the signing of the Phase One trade deal, companies are returning to the capital markets to tap funds. Seven companies, from a TV producer to a furniture maker, raised a combined HK$2.65 billion (US$341 million) this week, with their shares trading for the first time on the same day in an unprecedented joint debut.

Citi was one of the joint bookrunners and joint lead managers for Alibaba’s secondary listing in Hong Kong last year. Following the landmark fundraising, which saw Alibaba’s shares surge by more than 20 per cent since their Hong Kong listing, several US-listed Chinese technology companies began looking into the feasibility of raising additional funds in the city.

Laskowski’s team has also been talking with several multinational companies with bricks-and-mortar operations, about a secondary listing in Hong Kong.

That is because a Chinese tech company whose US stocks have already been trading well in the US and fairly valued by the market might not immediately benefit from a secondary listing, he said. There are other strategic considerations behind a company’s move to list in Hong Kong, Laskowski said.

For example, a secondary listing could be interesting to a multinational corporation looking to better capture the value of the Asian business. This could be associated with the group’s effort to deliver through the share sale, or more generally to improve the valuation of its primary listing.


Category: Hong Kong

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