Hong Kong’s dry spell for IPOs set to end with big China deals


Battery materials producer Tianqi Lithium Corp just opened its books for what is set to be the city’s first billion-dollar deal this year, while China Tourism Group Duty Free Corp may relaunch an offering of around US$2bil (RM8.8bil). Along with several other mid to large-sized deals in the pipeline, they are poised to revive a dormant market where firms raised a paltry US$2.6bil (RM11.4bil) between January and June. That’s a 92% slump from last year and the lowest sum for the same period since 2009.(File pic: HK stock exchange square.)

HONG KONG: After a dismal first six months, things are finally looking up for initial public offerings (IPOs) in Hong Kong, as several large Chinese firms line up to list in Asia’s financial hub in the second half.

Battery materials producer Tianqi Lithium Corp just opened its books for what is set to be the city’s first billion-dollar deal this year, while China Tourism Group Duty Free Corp may relaunch an offering of around US$2bil (RM8.8bil).

Along with several other mid to large-sized deals in the pipeline, they are poised to revive a dormant market where firms raised a paltry US$2.6bil (RM11.4bil) between January and June. That’s a 92% slump from last year and the lowest sum for the same period since 2009.

The pick-up in upcoming listings speaks of an improving environment for valuations, as the easing of virus-related curbs and Beijing’s dialing back on a corporate crackdown spur a world-beating rally in stocks in China and Hong Kong.

Better clarity on rules for Chinese share offerings abroad could also “encourage more new listings” in Hong Kong, Charles Zhou, an analyst at Credit Suisse Group AG, wrote in a note last month.

The flow of positive news from China has propelled the benchmark CSI 300 Index toward a technical bull market and analysts are expecting more constructive policy reinforcements in the second half of the year.

“If it happens, that would hopefully help to push through some of our pipeline of equity deals that are waiting for a better market window to open,” said Selina Cheung, co-head of Asia equity capital markets at UBS AG in Hong Kong.

In the first half, Hong Kong saw only one IPO. That was back in January plus the majority of companies that have debuted this year are trading below water. Notably, IPO activity has dried up globally as investors fret over inflation, hawkish central banks and recession fears.

Hong Kong’s dry spell now looks set to end with a flurry of small-size deals coming through late in June as issuers hurried to take advantage of a short window favouring Chinese equities.

Tianqi Lithium’s potential listing paves the way for July to be the strongest month for IPOs in the Asian financial hub this year.

The pipeline of offerings of about US$500mil (RM2.2bil) or more also includes snack maker Weilong Delicious Global Holdings Ltd and Wego Blood Purification, the dialysis unit of China’s Wego Group. — Bloomberg

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