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City retains IPO lead

Paul Lau
Paul Lau, Partner and Head of Capital Markets, KPMG China

Hong Kong’s position as a leading global initial public offering (IPO) venue continues, led by “new economy” companies going public. Paul Lau, Partner and Head of Capital Markets, KPMG China, interprets the firm’s latest findings on listings.

How did the first quarter shape up?
The Hong Kong IPO market saw a steady performance in 2019 Q1, underpinned by the continuation of new economy companies going public. Meanwhile, the introduction of the Science and Technology Innovation Board (“new tech board”) in Shanghai is set to spur A-share activity.

Based on a combination of data as of 15 March 2019 and KPMG estimates, 36 companies raised a total of HK$19.9 billion in 2019 Q1 in Hong Kong. On the Main Board, the number of IPOs was 31, with proceeds at HK$19.5 billion. Seven new economy companies – in technology, media and telecoms (TMT) (four), healthcare/life sciences (two) and education (one) – contributed over 42% of the total funds raised.

Any discernible trends?
Five of the top 10 largest IPOs in Hong Kong recorded in the quarter were new economy companies, including two pre-revenue biotech firms. This reflects the extended listing momentum of the sector as five pre-revenue biotech companies went public in 2018 after the new listing regime launched in April last year. The other new economy firms among the top 10 in 2019 Q1 included two from TMT and one from education.

The emergence of IPOs for new economy companies diversified the business sectors in terms of proceeds contributions. While infrastructure/real estate companies dominated in terms of funds raised, their proportion decreased to 19% from 45% a year ago. TMT and healthcare/life sciences both accounted for 18% in 2019 Q1, compared to less than 6% each for the same period last year.

What’s attracting them to list in Hong Kong?
The A-share and Hong Kong markets’ continued complementary growth is crucial as the new tech board helps develop up-and-coming companies. In 2019 Q1, Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKEX) stated its vision of being the global markets leader in Asia, by further increasing its international relevance both into and out of Mainland China and the rest of Asia.

Hong Kong is evolving to become more inclusive to attract listing applicants from overseas and non-traditional industries. We are seeing an increasing level of interest from established international firms listing their shares or looking into spin-offs in Hong Kong. This will further strengthen the bourse’s position as an international financial centre.

What lies ahead?
The pipeline continues to be strong with a number of new economy companies from the pharmaceutical sector and businesses in traditional sectors leveraging technological breakthroughs. We expect to see an acceleration of momentum for IPO activities for the rest of the year.

Plans to attract overseas companies and new economy firms from the tech and biotech sectors will help diversify Hong Kong’s market, as the new tech board spurs A-share activity.

On what do you base that?
As of 15 March 2019, there were 148 active IPO applicants, an increase from 81 at the end of March 2018. In 2019 Q1, total fundraising between the Shanghai Stock Exchange and Shenzhen Stock Exchange decreased 31% year on year to RMB 27.4 billion due to global economic uncertainties and slowing approval rates.

However, the new tech board will play a crucial part in the mainland’s strategic plan to push for innovation-driven growth and enhance the capital market.

How so?
The new tech board has generated significant market interest, and priority will be given to listing applicants with high market recognition and breakthroughs in core technologies. With its focus on quality, we believe in its potential to serve as a pillar for the development of new economy companies for years to come.

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Content provided by Hong Kong Trade Development Council
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