Returns for investors in Hong Kong's IPO market were poor last year. Photo: iStock
A Hong Kong stock market ticker. Photo: iStock

Forget the dream of many in Hong Kong for the city to become the world’s top center for initial public offerings (IPOs). Given the ramifications of the trade war, maybe it is more important that investors are simply happy.

Nearly three-quarters of IPO investors suffered a loss last year because only 58 out of 224 newly listed stocks were above their offer prices, according to local paper Ming Pao.

That came in spite of Hong Kong reclaiming the top spot from New York last year, when the fundraising from mega-IPOs was the highest in eight years.

In 2018, Hong Kong raised US$36.5 billion, or 17.6% of earnings from 125 companies’ IPOs on global markets, according to data from Refinitiv.

While the amount of capital raised in Hong Kong was up 175%, the three biggest IPOs in the city last year performed poorly.

Only China Tower, which provides facilities to the three major telecom operators on the mainland, had stock at prices that had risen – 17 % – on 5G optimism.

Shares in high-profile phone manufacturer Xiaomi Corp dipped 24% and those in food-delivery firm Meituan Dianping were even worse, down by 36% since listing last September.

Meituan Dianping, which reported a loss of 83.3 billion yuan (US$12.12 billion) in the third quarter ended September 30, 2018, was one of eight spinoffs from Tencent Holdings over the last 18 months.

But an acute drop in investors’ enthusiasm for the so-called new economy stocks has seen seven out of the eight ventures from Tencent dip below their offer prices.

No wonder brokers called Hong Kong IPOs serial value-destroyers.

The five worst IPOs produced negative returns from 68% and 73%, according to Ming Pao. Four of the five stocks were from the growth enterprise board, a second board for start-ups.

Among the five top performers that produced returns between 400% and 700%, only one is from the main board.