US markets 'still attractive' for Chinese IPOs

Updated: 2011-12-14 13:59

By Li Xiang (China Daily)

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BEIJING - Initial public offerings by Chinese companies in the United States next year might not rebound to the record level of 2010, but recent world market turmoil is unlikely to change the attraction of US exchanges for Chinese companies, a senior executive at the NYSE Euronext Group Inc said on Tuesday.

Chinese IPO activity in the US has weakened significantly over the past six months because of market volatility and uncertainty about the global economy.

The valuations of Chinese stocks traded in the US have also declined because of tighter regulations in that country and allegations of accounting fraud by short-seller Muddy Waters LLC.

"I don't expect that there will be as many deals in 2012 as we saw in 2010," Scott Cutler, executive vice-president and co-head of US listings and cash execution at the NYSE Euronext Group, told a news conference in Beijing.

The New York Stock Exchange has seen only seven Chinese IPOs, raising a total of $1.5 billion, so far this year, compared with 22 Chinese IPOs, raising $2.8 billion, in 2010, according to the US exchange.

Cutler said the main reason for declining market valuations was investors pulling out of equities.

But he said the Chinese IPO pipeline for the US exchange remained strong for 2012, including "some significant" companies.

The poor performance of some Chinese technology companies in the US has led to speculation that some would delist from the US markets and go public in Hong Kong or Shanghai, where they could get higher valuations.

In October, Shanghai-based Internet companies - Shanda Interactive Entertainment Ltd and China Real Estate Information Corp - announced plans to delist in the US, as their shares were trading at lower valuations than their Hong Kong-listed competitors.

"Hong Kong, over time, will overtake the US as the preferred place of listing for Chinese technology companies," Bao Fan, chief executive officer of the Beijing-based investment bank China Renaissance Partners, was quoted by Bloomberg News as saying.

But Cutler said that some delistings of Chinese companies from US markets did not represent a longer-term trend. He added that the US markets were open to Chinese issuers and remained important for international investors.

"The US capital markets have been more robust than any other markets in the world. I do not see a trend of companies from other parts of the world coming to Asia more than the US," he said.

Yang Ge, the chief representative at NYSE Euronext's office in Beijing, said Chinese companies from the technology, media and Internet sectors will continue to lead IPO activity next year in the US, which remains a primary market for them to gain access to capital.