Hong Kong's worst trading debut in 2022 sends EV-maker down 42%

The Chinese companies are starting to trade in what's been a tough year for IPO performance and equity markets in general. PHOTO: AFP

HONG KONG - An electric-vehicle (EV) maker and a unit of China's real estate developer China Vanke plunged in their trading debuts in Hong Kong, following initial public offerings (IPOs) that together raised more than US$1.5 billion (S$2.15 billion).

Chinese EV-maker Zhejiang Leapmotor Technology slumped as much as 42 per cent to HK$25.05.

The company raised about US$800 million after selling shares at HK$48, the bottom of a marketed range.

Leapmotor's slide puts it on course for the steepest first-day decline by a listing larger than US$250 million in Hong Kong.

The Chinese companies are starting to trade in what has been a tough year for IPO performance and equity markets in general.

Before Thursday, half of the 16 firms that listed in Hong Kong this year following IPOs that raised more than US$100 million ended their first session below water, with three unchanged and five rising above their listing price, Bloomberg data show.

Onewo, China Vanke's property management unit, fell as much as 7.9 per cent to HK$45.45.

The firm garnered about US$739 million, with shares priced at HK$49.35, the mid-point of a price interval given in the offering.

In Leapmotor's deal, the portion reserved for individuals was undersubscribed, with about only 16 per cent of the 13.1 million shares in the public offering placed, according to a statement on Wednesday.

The tranche for funds was "moderately" oversubscribed, the document reads.

"Leapmotor's IPO was expensive even after pricing it at the bottom, and the Hong Kong offering was significantly undersubscribed, which suggests that investor sentiment was weak," said Ms Shifara Samsudeen, an analyst at LightStream Research.

The company's "market share expansion comes at the cost of its margins and it is struggling to make gross margins while all its domestic peers are making decent gross profits", she added.

Leapmotor's debut tumble casts a shadow on the expected start for CALB, a Chinese battery supplier for electric-vehicle makers slated to start trading in Hong Kong next week.

The company priced its US$1.3 billion IPO at the bottom of the marketed range on Wednesday, the third-largest offering in the city this year.

The trading starts come as equities globally are pressured after hawkish comments from United States Federal Reserve policymakers led to a surge in Treasury yields, and a gauge for the US dollar set an all-time high.

The Hang Seng Index slumped 3.4 per cent on Wednesday, the most since May, to end at the lowest level in a decade.

Onewo offers residential property services, commercial and urban space integrated services and so-called remote space-tech solutions, incorporating artificial intelligence and business process outsourcing, according to the prospectus.

Vanke owns about 63 per cent of the property management unit before the IPO.

China's real estate sector has been under pressure this year, most recently as Covid-19 lockdowns hurt home sales by already cash-strapped builders.

But Vanke last month stood out as the first top-tier China property developer to report stronger earnings, defying a downturn that has engulfed peers once seen as relatively safe.

Onewo's IPO saw better demand than Leapmotor's.

About 82 per cent of 11.7 million shares offered to the public were placed, with demand from institutional investors topping 3.3 times more than those available, a statement showed.

"Both IPOs were not cheap," said Mr Ke Yan, head of research at DZT Research in Singapore.

"The market is not lacking another EV name and a property management name. The management and bankers were successful in getting investors buy-in, but results didn't turn out to be good." BLOOMBERG

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