Shares of initial public offerings did not perform so well this year. Photo: iStock
Shares of initial public offerings did not perform so well this year. Photo: iStock

As the multi-billionaire investor Warren Buffet famously said, “only when the tide goes out do you discover who’s been swimming naked.”

He might have been thinking of the so-called new economy stocks in today’s weak Hong Kong stock market.

The Tencent-backed online China travel portal Tongcheng-Elong and the Alibaba Group-funded online parenting firm Babytree Group are about to come to the market, substantially discounted from the prices they had hoped to attract.

Tongcheng-Elong will seek US$233 million in fresh capital, down more than 84% from the US$1.5 billion it originally hoped to raise earlier this year.

Ditto for Babytree, which targets raising at least US$200 million, down 80% from its earlier, US$1 billion goal, but which cancelled a Tuesday IPO news press conference due to a “technical issue.” No further details were forthcoming.

Hong Kong has seen major mainland technology companies launching listings this year, most notably consumer electronics giant Xiaomi Corp and food delivery company Meituan-Dianping.

The inclusion of these two giants contributed to the US$27.7 billion raised in the first three quarters this year, which propelled the Hong Kong market to top spot for IPOs.

Unfortunately, post-IPO share price performances were below expectations. Both Xiaomi and Meituan-Dianping shares were about 20% and 18% below their IPO prices, respectively, based on their closing prices on Wednesday.

Nial Gooding, a senior fund manager at GCIS Limited, said IPOs have been serial value-destroyers in the last couple of years and part, but by no means all, of the problem lies within the industry that greases its wheels.

“It is investors though that must shoulder the final responsibility for a system that has resulted in serial capital destruction via both in-plain-sight first and harder-to-see but potentially larger second order effects,” Gooding wrote to his investor.

“A just-say-no policy with regards to IPOs, especially if adopted by larger institutional investors (for a while at least), might improve the situation.”

As such, the online travel portal might be less attractive than the resort. All eyes are now on Fosun Tourism, a spin-off from Fosun International after its acquisition of Club Med for US$1.09 billion in 2015.

Fosun Tourism, the world’s largest leisure tourism resort group by revenue, is to seek US$1 billion from its listing, according to South China Morning Post.