Regional IPOs lowest in five years

According to Ernst & Young’s Middle East IPO Update, regional capital markets raised $21.7m in the first quarter of 2011, down 94.8 per cent from the $420.4m raised in the first quarter of 2010. The regional markets raised only 0.45 per cent of global IPO funds in Q1 2011.

Nine IPOs expected to raise around $4.7b altogether were postponed or withdrawn in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region during March 2011, the largest monthly estimated volume since October 2008.

One IPO each in Syria and the UAE saw the lowest quarterly fund raising in MENA through the IPO route over the past five years. The Insurance House in Abu Dhabi, UAE, raised $18.6m and the Middle East Exchange Company in Syria raised $3.1m.

“The regional IPO market has fallen to its lowest level in five years during the last quarter. Besides the significant developments across the region, the main factor driving the market down has been weak investor sentiment due to underperforming stock markets and risk aversion,” said Phil Gandier, MENA Head of Transaction Advisory Services, Ernst & Young.

“This downward trend could be reversed in the second quarter if some of the announced and open IPOs firm up their plans and choose to list. The IPO of the National Takaful Company (Wataniya) in the UAE, which came in the second quarter and was oversubscribed seven times, demonstrates that investors may have begun warming up to the primary markets,” he added.

“Recent turmoil in the Middle East and Japan has unsettled broader stock market indexes, spooked investors, and slowed down the pace of new issuances in March. However, investors have been waiting for some time now to invest their capital, and the IPO market is still open for the right growth story and realistic valuation,” said Gregory K. Ericksen, Global Vice Chair for Strategic Growth Markets for Ernst & Young.

US PE-backed listings drove global IPO activity in the first quarter of 2011, with the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) taking the lead among world exchanges for the first time in two years. While the US exchanges began closing the gap on Chinese IPO dominance (32 per cent), the Greater Chinese exchanges raised more than a third of total capital raised (52 per cent) globally.

In the first three months of the year, global IPO activity saw 290 deals worth $46.1b, down 14 per cent by capital raised, compared to the same period last year. For the first time since 2008, the NYSE took the lead among world exchanges, raising $13.8b (29.8 per cent) of the total capital, followed by the $11.2b (24.3 per cent) capital raised on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange, ($5.6b), Singapore (12.2 per cent), and ($4.5b), Shanghai (9.8 per cent).

In Q1, the NYSE, NASDAQ and AMEX exchanges raised $15b combined, driven by smaller companies, particularly in the health care and energy sectors. US PE investors continue to exit earlier leveraged investments, including America’s largest hospital chain operator, HCA Holdings Inc. which raised $4.3b in March, the largest PE-backed IPO in history. Bolstered by rising oil prices, energy company Kinder Morgan, completed a $3.3b IPO, the third largest PE-backed deal ever.

China and Hong Kong issuers continued to lead global IPO activity with 111 deals (accounting for 38.3 per cent of total deals globally); valued at $23.9b (52 per cent of global fund raised). The largest global IPO in Q1 was the $5.5b Singapore listing of Hong-Kong based transportation conglomerate, Hutchison Port Holdings, reflecting an upturn in global trade and container traffic following the global financial crisis. The second largest IPO in Asia (and the fifth largest globally) was the $1.4b Shanghai listing of clean energy company, Sinovel Wind Group Co, maker of wind turbines.

Fuelled by high rates of GDP growth, domestic consumption, foreign capital inflows, and infrastructure investment, Brazil, Argentina and Mexico raised $2.7b in seven IPOs globally. Latin America’s largest economy, Brazil conducted five IPOs, raising an impressive $2.1b as local companies tapped the stock market to finance expansion plans.

By contrast, Europe raised just $2.5b in 51 listings, well below the $8.4b in 48 deals raised over the same period last year. Although European IPO pipelines remain packed with companies keen for public capital, sovereign debt concerns and global uncertainty continue to hamper valuations and dampen European investor appetites.

In Q1, the industrials sector (particularly transportation and machinery companies), raised the most funds ($12.6b). This was followed by the energy sector ($7.9b in 23 deals) and health care sector ($6.2b in 29 deals). By number of deals, the leading sectors were the materials sector (60 deals valued at $4.6b), industrials sector (48 deals) and technology sector (35 deals worth $2.8b).

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