Hong Kong works to revive its IPO market

Written by Kapronasia || July 31 2023

The strong recovery that we and many others had envisioned in Hong Kong’s IPO market has yet to materialize. Listings in Hong Kong have raised just $2.6 billion this year, down 47% from the same period last year and far below 2021 levels, according to Dealogic. With that in mind, we are intrigued to see that Hong Kong’s financial regulators appear to be looking beyond the usual up-and-coming Chinese tech companies and cooperating with both local governments in China and the Indonesia Stock Exchange (IDX).

One strategy HKEX is using to increase business is to cooperate with local governments in mainland China. According to a Wall Street Journal analysis, entities controlled by mainland governments purchased shares in nine of the 20 Hong Kong IPOs so far this year that had cornerstone investors - which commit ahead of time to buy chunks of the deals at their listing price. In some cases, the local governments hope that that the deals can generate higher GDP for their communities. For instance, one region in eastern Zhejiang Province’s Anji County involved in HKEX deals this began investment discussions by asking how likely the companies were to establish operations in the county.

Zhejiang is an interesting case study for this type of deal as it happens to be the home of Alibaba. WSJ’s research shows that government entities in the prosperous coastal province have been among the most active Chinese government investors in Hong Kong’s IPO market this year. Zhejiang aims to hit a 1,000-IPO milestone by 2025 (companies from the province) listed either domestically or overseas.

Separately, HKEX may tie up with IDX to try and attract some new international business to the city’s capital markets. We will be following this development especially closely. Indeed, for all its branding as “an international financial center,” Hong Kong tends to be more of an international conduit for mainland capital and an offshore financial center for China these days than anything else.

Under the agreement that HKEX and IDX signed last week, the two stock exchanges will explore cross-border listings and joint product developments. IDX slightly edged out Hong Kong in terms of capital raised with US$2.23 billion compared to Hong Kong’s US$2.17 billion, according to Refinitiv. This year, IDX’s largest deals are in the minerals sector: gold miner Amman Mineral Internasional which raised US$711 million earlier this month, and materials company PT Trimegah Bangun Persada that raised US$668 million in April.

However, of greater interest to Hong Kong would be attracting start-ups from the dynamic tech scene in Southeast Asia’s largest economy. No such companies have listed yet on the IDX this year, but GoTo raised US$1.1 billion in April 2022. Compared to the Singapore Exchange, HKEX would be a better choice for such companies that wanted to list outside of their home country. Hong Kong has more liquid capital markets than Singapore and would offer Indonesian startups access to a more diverse pool of investors.