Investors appear to have adjusted to a new normal in Hong Kong, one characterized by political unrest and economic uncertainty. As the coronavirus ebbs, protests are returning to Asia's preeminent financial hub. The former British colony remains mired in a steep recession. And yet, large Chinese tech firms are pushing ahead with initial public offerings and secondary share listings on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. At the current rate, Hong Kong could be the world's hottest IPO market in 2020.
As tensions between the U.S. and China flare up in the financial sector, the future of Chinese fundraising in America's capital markets looks uncertain. Hong Kong has benefited, attracting a growing number of Chinese tech IPOs and secondary share listings from juggernauts like Alibaba and JD.com. Another possible winner in the U.S.-China financial tussle could be London, which began operating the London-Shanghai Stock Connect scheme in 2019.
The past year has been one of the hardest in memory for Hong Kong, which has been in recession since the fourth quarter of 2019. While the city has contained the coronavirus relatively well, it still faces political turmoil with no end in sight. You wouldn't know that from the state of its IPO market though, which had the most new listings among all stock exchanges in the first quarter and is gathering momentum faster in the second quarter than any other major index.
The Hong Kong IPO market has picked up considerably since early May. Suzhou-based biotech firm Peijia Medical listed on the HKEX on May 15, raising HK$2.3 billion (US$302 million) that it will use to develop its product pipeline of heart valve and vascular repair devices. Peijia Medical's shares jumped 74% in its first day of trading, the best debut performance this year so far for an IPO over US$50 million.
Hong Kong's future as a financial center is increasingly clear: It will be a global fundraising hub for Chinese firms, especially in the technology sector. These days, the biggest Hong Kong IPOs are almost all Chinese tech firms, whether the listings are primary or secondary. Non-Chinese tech firms are more likely to go public in New York or London. Following Alibaba's mammoth secondary share listing on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in November 2019 - which raised US$13 billion - its arch-rival JD.com is reportedly planning a $US3 billion share sale in Hong Kong this year. Alibaba's primary listing is on the NYSE while JD.com is listed on the Nasdaq.
In early April, China's Starbucks rival Luckin Coffee was revealed to be a paper tiger. The company that was supposedly giving the U.S. coffee giant a run for its money in the world's largest consumer market had literally fabricated its success. To be sure, Luckin's 4,500 China stores - exceeding Starbucks' 4292 - were no mirage. But the company's sales figures were bogus. On April 2, Luckin publicized the results of an internal investigation showing RMB2.2 billion (US $311 million) in fraudulent sales from the second to the fourth quarter of 2019.
Hong Kong's IPO market was expected to be one of the world's best performing this year, attracting Chinese firms eager to raise capital internationally. Whereas such firms may have preferred listing on the NYSE or Nasdaq in years past, tensions in the U.S.-China relationship have caused many of them to reconsider.
Then the novel coronavirus broke out, sapping the steady momentum that had been building in Hong Kong's capital markets since Alibaba's mammoth secondary share listing in November 2019. Artificial intelligence startup SenseTime is the latest major Chinese tech firm to put off a planned Hong Kong IPO this year. SenseTime will instead seek up to US$1 billion in private funding.
Chinese fintech giant Ant Financial is reportedly working with banks to restart a long-stalled initial public offering. In its most recent fundraising round, held in June 2018, Ant was valued at US$150 billion. With a price tag like that, when Ant does go public, the listing will be pathbreaking for Asian companies. The company has not given a timetable for the IPO, but Credit Suisse and China International Corp. are involved in initial preparations, according to The Financial Times.
Hong Kong's IPO hot streak is expected to continue this year with the former British colony among the world's top three markets for initial public offerings, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC). PwC expects up to 180 companies to raise as much as HK$260 billion (US$33.4 billion) on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
While sufficient to place Hong Kong among the world's three top IPO markets, that amount would still mark a decline of almost 18% from 2019's HK$315.5 billion, which was No. 1 globally. Alibaba's mammoth secondary share listing of HK$100 billion (US$12.9 billion) accounted for almost 40% of the total last year.
Alibaba's secondary share listing in Hong Kong is back on track and now set for late November. The Chinese e-commerce giant eschewed Hong Kong for New York when it first went public in 2014, to the disapproval of some in Chinese officialdom. The Hangzhou-based company has been planning a secondary listing in Hong Kong to fund large-scale expansion plans. Those plans were put on hold amidst the worst political instability to hit Hong Kong since the late 1960s.
While the protests have yet to abate, Alibaba is ready to go ahead with its Hong Kong IPO anyway, with a probable date of November 26. The IPO is expected to raise up to $13.4 billion, analysts say. A draft prospectus reviewed by Reuters shows that Alibaba plans to use the money to invest in e-travel group Fliggy, Ele.me, an online delivery and local services platform, and YouKu, a Chinese variation of YouTube.
Hong Kong has had a tough year. Following more than four months of protests, the city's economy slipped into recession for the first time in a decade in the third quarter, contracting 3.2% in the July-September period compared to the quarter ended June 2019. The political instability shows no signs of easing either.
Yet, Hong Kong has led the world in initial public offerings since early September. Data compiled by Bloomberg show first-time share sales on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange are US$7.9 billion since September 1, ahead of the Nasdaq's US$7 billion and the New York Stock Exchange's US$3 billion. Anheuser-Buschs's US$5.8 billion IPO of its Asian unit accounted for the lion's share of new Hong Kong listings.
Since its return to China in 1999, the former Portuguese colony of Macau has become the world's gambling capital, with a casino industry far larger than Las Vegas's. Macau's huge gaming sector has helped the territory maintain strong economic growth over the past two decades, even during the global financial crisis of 2008-09. However, reliance on gaming exposes Macau to an unusually high level of financial crime risk. Despite government efforts to tackle the problem, Macau remains at high risk for money laundering.
Given Macau's money laundering travails, it may come as a surprise that the territory has plans to launch a stock exchange. After all, strong regulatory compliance is a necessity for any city with ambitions to become a financial center. It goes hand in hand with the rule of law. Neither Hong Kong nor Singapore could have become financial centers without both of these attributes. Nevertheless, He Xiaojun, director of Guangdong Province's Financial Supervision and Management Authority, said in October that Macau had submitted a plan to set up an RMB-based stock exchange to the central government. There is hope that the stock exchange will become “the Nasdaq of the People’s Republic of China," he was quoted as saying by TDM Chinese Radio.
In a sign of increasing tensions between the U.S. and China in the financial sector, the Nasdaq is tightening scrutiny of small Chinese companies' IPOs. These firms usually raise most of their capital from Chinese investors rather than American ones. The shares of these companies tend to trade thinly once they've gone public, limiting their appeal to large institutional investors - on whose interests the Nasdaq focuses.
Recent reports in the U.S. media have described the Trump administration mulling a plan that would involve the delisting of Chinese firms from U.S. stock exchanges. The Trump administration has denied the reports, while political heavyweights such as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have dismissed the idea outright. McConnell told CNBC that the Treasury Department made clear it does not favor delisting Chinese firms from U.S. stock exchanges.
Alibaba's expected Hong Kong listing was supposed to be a grand homecoming. After all, the company's $21.8 billion 2014 NYSE listing - at the time the largest global IPO ever - disappointed some folks in Chinese officialdom who hoped China's biggest e-commerce firm would go public closer to home. Since the HKSE revised its rules last year to allow dual listings, there has been much speculation about Alibaba listing in Hong Kong.
In August, international media reported that Alibaba would suspend plans to list its shares in Hong Kong. The stock offering, which was expected to raise US$10-15 million had been scheduled for late August, according to a recent New York Times report. The deal could well have been the largest of the year and the top follow-on share sale in seven years. Alibaba nixed plans to list its shares in Hong Kong because of ongoing protests in the city and associated instability, the report said.
Can Shanghai’s new NASDAQ-style exchange really become a NASDAQ and can Shanghai become New York?
At first blush, Taiwan has taken a major step forward in its acceptance of virtual currency by issuing regulations specifically for security token offerings (STOs), rather than requiring them to abide by existing securities laws. Taiwan's Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) announced the new regulations in late June and expects to implement them as early as October. The FSC says that the new regulations will benefit startups seeking non-traditional fundraising sources.
The United States is not the only major economic power turning cold on Chinese investment. Now the European Union, China's largest trading partner, is having second thoughts of its own about allowing China to buy up its prime manufacturing and high-tech assets. Concern amongst the EU's heavyweights, including Germany, France and the United Kingdom, is significant, analysts say. While weaker states in the EU, notably Greece, continue to welcome Chinese investment, they are increasingly in the minority.
One morning in July, investors of Niubanjin Finance, a P2P platform with balance of 39 billion RMB at that time, tried to check their balance online, but only saw a system maintenance notification. They started feeling anxious and visited the local office in Hangzhou, only to find that the office had closed, and two policemen there to record their investment information, as proof of victims.
More and more Chinese individuals have accumulated a great amount of wealth thanks to the country’s economy boom in the past decades. As a result, the demand of wealth management is growing. With the help of new technologies, mobile wealth management (MWM) platforms are attracting more and more investors in China recently.
President Trump’s latest controversial policy of imposing tariffs on the EU, Canada and China has shook global trade. With around $34bn worth of tariffs on Chinese goods (with more tariffs proposed), he aims to reduce the US’s trade deficit with the hope that American consumers will buy less Chinese goods and more American goods, thus increasing net exports and GDP. However, China has retaliated with its own tariffs against the US (worth the same amount). It is clear that neither side wants to back down first so who will win this trade war?
On April 29th, the CSRC (China Security Regulatory Committee) officially released the Administrative Measures for Foreign-Invested Securities Companies.
China's recent outbound M&A has been suffering with more and more acquisitions failing due to national security concerns, Ant Financial's missed acquisition of MoneyGram being the latest. Why does national security factor into these decisions and why will it remain a crucial consideration in the future?
Two weeks after the 19th Communist Party of China (CPC) national congress, the Chinese state council set up the Financial Stability and Development Committee (FSDC), as the institution to ensure the stability of the financial system and provide solutions for future development.
In the venture capital industry, a ‘unicorn’ refers to any technology start-up company which has reached a valuation of over USD $1 billion, as determined by private or public investment. The term was devised by venture capitalist Aileen Lee, founder of CowboyVC, a venture capital fund based in Palo Alto. She discovered that only 0.07% of software start-ups founded in the 2000s would ever reach a $1bn valuation, thereby being as rare as finding a unicorn.
The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has introduced a number of measures recently in the capital and commodity markets to improve the quality of market infrastructure and the depth of trading that takes place. We will look at three examples of the recent changes being made by the SEBI here.
Qudian lnc, the Chinese micro lending company, has filed for a U.S. IPO at the NYSE earlier last month. It plans to raise up to USD $750 million in capital to spend on strategic acquisitions, marketing and borrower engagement. In only a few years, Qudian has become an eye catching internet lending company with a valuation of over $6.9 billion USD. Qudian’s remarkable success in such a short period of time, shows how profitable the cash loan market can be, as well as the incredible opportunities for transformation that can arise when collaborating with internet giants like Alibaba.
The equity market cross-connects between Hong Kong and Shanghai, and Hong Kong and Shenzhen have begun to show signs of growing maturity.
Anti-money laundering activities are taking the center stage in Indian financial markets. The recent crackdown on shell companies, and brokerages helping them, by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) is part of a concerted effort by the Government to clean up the financial markets in India.
MSCI, the influential provider of stock market indexes, has made the long-awaited decision to add Mainland Chinese A shares to its emerging markets index. 222 stocks from the Shanghai and Shenzhen exchanges will be added to the index. These 222 shares will represent just 0.7% of the emerging markets index, which is tracked by and estimated $1.6 trillion in funds.
Government reforms have had contrasting effect on the securitization and corporate debt markets in India. Significant issues such as the high level of bad loans at public sector banks, bankruptcy laws which were not conducive to recovery of non-performing assets (NPAs), securitization of debt and the need to boost the corporate debt market, go hand in hand in India.
Historically speaking, it has been very difficult for Chinese investors and institutions to invest their money overseas. The Chinese government has several reasons for tightly regulating capital outflows, the most important of which is controlling the value of the yuan. However, as a continuation of China’s broad plan to become more integrated into the globalized economy, the government has been encouraging cross-border investment through programs that allow Chinese investors to invest overseas, and programs that allow foreign institutions to invest in the mainland.
The Chinese bond markets are becoming more accessible through regulatory initiatives and greater foreign investor participation.
The Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) is the oldest stock exchange in Asia, having been founded in 1875. However, in recent years, it has become the number two equity exchange in India, after the National Stock Exchange (NSE).
The uncertainty over H1B visas in the US is taking a toll on Indian IT firms, most of which have heavy exposure to the US market in terms of both revenues and headcount.