China firms tap virus-driven liquidity to raise record US$148b in equity deals


Next week, the mainland's JD Logistics Inc is expected to kick off its Hong Kong listing to raise at least $3 billion, the latest in a list of billion-dollar IPOs in the financial hub.

HONG KONG: Chinese companies raised a record $148 billion through global equity capital markets in the first four months of 2021, data showed, as they tapped the ample cash available with investors due to the coronavirus pandemic.

That was more than double the sum they garnered from equity markets in the year-ago period and accounted for a fifth of all equity capital raising deals this year, according to data from Refinitiv.

Of that, Chinese companies raised a record $31.9 billion through initial public offerings (IPOs), double from the year-ago period.

The data indicated investors were drawn to China's economic recovery and huge consumer market, despite concerns about government action against some sectors.

Companies benefitted from the liquidity sloshing around as governments worldwide ramped up stimulus measures to combat the economic impact of the pandemic and consumers cut back on discretionary spending.

"It's a very strong market and valuations are solid," said Matt Emsley, China managing partner at law firm Herbert Smith Freehills.

"We are seeing a number of companies looking to list on fairly tight timetables and we are seeing companies looking to kick off deals running into the second half which indicates there is a lot of desire with financial stimulus plus the level of retail participation and savings that is creating a very strong market."

China was the second most active capital-raising country in the world behind the United States where $312 billion was raised primarily from Special Purpose Acquisition Companies (SPACs), or blank check firms.

Given the strong start to the year, the volume of Chinese deals may moderate later in 2021, bankers said.

"Can the trend continue? There are a list of more than 100 tech unicorns out of China, so this can definitely continue for several more years but the big question is going to be whether those tech unicorns opt for public markets and IPOs or whether they opt for raising more money in a private format," said Magnus Andersson, co-head of Asia-Pacific equity capital markets at Morgan Stanley in Hong Kong.

"The jury is still out and how markets perform over the next three to six months is going to be a driver of whether we see private fundraisings coming back or whether we see more public IPOs."

Next week, the mainland's JD Logistics Inc is expected to kick off its Hong Kong listing to raise at least $3 billion, the latest in a list of billion-dollar IPOs in the financial hub.

And three Chinese companies - Ximalaya, Qiniu and Hello - that have publicly filed for U.S. IPOs are due to start their book-building processes shortly, people with knowledge of their plans said. - Reuters

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