Initial public offerings in Hong Kong are slowly sputtering back to life after the double whammy of the Lunar New Year holiday and the coronavirus outbreak in China put a halt on deals.
Fu Shek Financial Holdings Ltd. began trading on Wednesday after raising $16.1 million in its IPO. It is the second company to price an initial share sale in the financial hub since mid-January, following SEM Holdings Ltd.
After a flurry of deals in the first two weeks of January, IPOs all but stopped in the second half of the month as the spread of the coronavirus coincided with the Lunar New Year festivities. The outbreak has led to the cancellation of tens of thousands of flights to and from China, hampering much of the IPO preparation work.
While some early-stage deals got delayed, later-stage transactions are pressing ahead, subject to market conditions, said Jason Elder, a partner at Mayer Brown in Hong Kong.
Also read: Stuck-at-Home Bankers See China Deals Slump With Virus Spreading
The last time Hong Kong saw a IPO hiatus of two weeks or more was in August, when no deals priced for three weeks and only two did between mid-July and mid-September, data compiled by Bloomberg show. That drop in activity was partly due to the normal summer lull, but also to poor sentiment after Anheuser-Busch InBev SA pulled its first attempt at a mega listing in July.
The 2019 Lunar New Year, which fell at the beginning of February, did not see listings stop completely, nor did it in 2018, underscoring the additional impact of the virus this year. However, bankers and lawyers expect deal activity to pick up quickly once the coronavirus epidemic passes, and deal work that doesn’t require face-to-face contact continues. Warburg Pincus-backed cancer treatment firm Hygeia Healthcare Holdings Co. filed on Monday for a Hong Kong IPO that could raise between $300 million to $500 million, IFR reported.
“We do expect that once this is behind us, deal volume will increase sharply and there is a considerable amount of deals behind us in the pipeline that are ready to go,” Mayer Brown’s Elder said.
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