US exchanges set for highest number of Asian IPOs since 2010

The final tally of IPOs from Asian companies in the United States is expected to reach 20-24. PHOTO: AFP/GETTY IMAGES

HONG KONG (Reuters) - US exchanges are set to record their busiest year for IPOs from Asian firms since 2010 and may sustain the pace in 2018, as startups from Taiwan, Singapore, Indonesia and Vietnam join a flurry of Chinese firms that have already listed in the country.

Chinese issuers have dominated US IPO activity for several years, but Nasdaq and rival New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) have been increasingly targeting firms from fast-growing Southeast Asian economies and startups from Japan and Australia to counter their dependence on mainland companies.

"We see great growth and great opportunities ahead, and it's not just about China. Entrepreneurship and innovation are all over the region," Bob McCooey, chairman for Asia Pacific and global head of capital markets at Nasdaq, said in an interview.

Five companies, including Singaporean online games maker Sea, China's oldest peer-to-peer (P2P) lender Ppdai Group and search company Sogou, are currently pitching their plans for initial public offerings to investors, adding to the 10 Chinese firms that have listed so far this year in the United States.

Australian biopharmaceutical company Immuron Ltd also listed in the United States in June.

The final tally of IPOs from Asian companies in the United States is expected to reach 20-24, McCooey said. That would be the most from the region since a record 42 new listings in 2010, Thomson Reuters data showed.

While the number of Asian firms listing on US exchanges should be about the same in 2018, the year is expected to see an increase in the amount of funds raised from 2017, McCooey added.

Sectors leading deal activity include life sciences, e-commerce, education and financial technology.

IPO proceeds from Asian companies listing on Nasdaq and the NYSE peaked in 2014, when e-commerce behemoth Alibaba Group Holding went public in a record US$25 billion (S$33.8 billion) deal. That year, two-thirds of new listings were from China.

Despite the dominance from Chinese issuers, US IPOs over the past several years have included companies from Taiwan, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia and India.

Nasdaq is tracking about 100 companies from mainland China that it could engage with for potential listings as they look to go public in coming years, McCooey said.

But the exchange is also meeting with firms from Indonesia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Japan.

The exchange in May signed an agreement to help Vietnamese online gaming and messaging company VNG Corp explore an IPO, making it a rare US listing from a company in the Southeast Asian nation.

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