Business / Markets

Deluge of tiny IPOs keeps HK equity market ticking

By Emma Dai (China Daily) Updated: 2014-07-16 07:09

Initial public offerings are picking up. But the world's second-largest venue for floats finds itself awash with small fund-raising plans, reports Emma Dai

It has been awhile since Hong Kong IPO market was this busy. Starting in mid-June, Champagne and roast suckling pigs were served almost every day in the Exchange Square in Central. Bankers, lawyers and board-room directors all toasted one another to fete the new issuances - often several at a time.

Yet among the celebrations could be heard the often-repeated question: "Why is the new stock trading at only one dollar?"

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Approaching the year's second half, Hong Kong's equity market experienced an explosive round of initial public offerings. Compared with the first five months, when only 23 new listings were posted on the main board, a total of 34 companies had debuted from June to Tuesday.

Simultaneously, another three companies are on the waiting list, boosting the number of offerings to 37 from June till now.

In comparison, May and April saw only three and two IPOs, respectively. In June last year, only five companies listed.

Yet to the surprise of seasoned investors in Hong Kong, the world's second-largest IPO destination by number of listings in 2013, the scale of floats is getting ever smaller. Of the 37 enterprises issuing shares, about 22 looked to raise less than HK$1 billion ($129 million). Only two companies, Tianhe Chemicals Group Ltd and Luye Pharma Group Ltd, sought more than HK$5 billion. Mega IPOs, such as WH Group's postponed HK$10 billion offering in April, may never emerge again.

As a result, the 34 newly listed companies in the June rush raised HK$42.61 billion in total, or HK$1.2 billion apiece on average.

Volatility is said to be the reason.

"Traditionally, April and May are a major window for IPOs," said DaiQiang, managing director of Asia investment banking and capital markets of Jefferies Hong Kong Ltd. "However, this year in the second quarter, market sentiment was not ideal for large-scale floats."

The Hang Seng Index, after peaking at 24,038.55 points in December, was on a roller-coaster ride in the first half, fluctuating between 21,200 and 23,200 points recently.

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