SGX's share of IPOs shrinks as regional rivals step up

Bourse's new share sales last year the smallest haul among South-east Asia's largest stock markets

Singapore's exchange had the smallest haul of new share sales among the region's four largest stock markets last year. Listings this year totalled US$34 million (S$46 million), lagging behind Thailand and Malaysia.

The slide of South-east Asia's biggest bourse down the initial public offering (IPO) rankings reflects not so much its own failings, but the growing ability of rivals from Jakarta to Bangkok to convince local issuers to stay at home instead of flocking to the regional hub.

Indonesia, the region's largest economy, plans to start an exchange dedicated to young technology companies, while Thailand's premier has highlighted the importance of the country's capital markets.

Mr Pankaj Goel, co-head of South-east Asia investment banking at Credit Suisse, said: "The smaller South-east Asian exchanges have been promoting themselves as a listing venue...

"It makes sense for Indonesian companies to list in Jakarta and for Thai companies to list on Thailand's stock exchange."

Companies that listed last year in Singapore raised US$366 million, its worst performance since 2001. The amount was less than 10 per cent of funds raised from Thailand's IPOs, just a third of Malaysia's and half of Indonesia's.

Singapore's decline in new listings adds to the challenges faced by Mr Loh Boon Chye, who became chief executive officer (CEO) of the city's exchange in July and has been trying to restore confidence in a market where turnover has not recovered from a mystery penny-stock crash in 2013.

Companies that listed last year in Singapore raised US$366 million, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, its worst performance since 2001.

The amount was less than 10 per cent of funds raised from Thailand's IPOs, just a third of Malaysia's and half of Indonesia's, the data show.

Of the 13 IPOs in Singapore last year, four were from foreign firms - two Malaysian, one Chinese and one Israeli. In 2010, 10 foreign companies from China, Indonesia, Malaysia and Norway were among the 31 listing debuts in the city state.

Globally, companies have raised US$14.5 billion from IPOs this year, a 67 per cent plunge from the same period last year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Mrs Lee Suet Fern, managing partner at law firm Morgan Lewis Stamford, said: "The competition is not so much between one exchange and another but ensuring that there are enough listing-ready candidates."

The Indonesia Stock Exchange is trying to persuade local companies listed in Singapore as well as foreign natural resources firms operating in its country to list in Jakarta. The push is part of an effort to become South-east Asia's biggest stock exchange within five years, CEO Tito Sulistio said in February.

The Philippine Stock Exchange has been pitching to multinational companies with operations in the country, according to PSE president Hans Sicat.

Malaysian companies chose to list at home in recent years, said Bursa Malaysia CEO Tajuddin Atan, who added that Bursa Malaysia in July tweaked its listing rules to boost its attractiveness and cut compliance costs.

In Thailand, local companies raised the most in South-east Asia in the past three years after its stock exchange introduced rules for listing infrastructure funds, said  head of the issuer marketing division at the Stock Exchange of Thailand Santi Keranand. Such projects accounted for about 45 per cent of the amount raised from IPOs since 2013, he said.

Mr Michael Wu, an analyst at Morningstar in Hong Kong, said Singapore will continue to be relevant as a listing destination. The island's pro-business regulatory environment, political stability and robust currency make it an ideal place for issuers and investors, he added.

Mr Chew Sutat, head of equities and fixed income at SGX, said: "The growth of South-east Asian bourses is positive as it benefits the region, making us collectively a more vibrant capital market."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 01, 2016, with the headline 'SGX's share of IPOs shrinks as regional rivals step up'. Print Edition | Subscribe