Hong Kong Exchange Square in Central, Hong Kong Island. Photo: iStock

It is hard to conclude if Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing has done a good job in its aspiration to become a better global financial center.

Yes, the securities bourse has done well in maintaining Hong Kong’s status as the world’s largest IPO center – but it does not make many share investors happy.

Of course, one would be happy to be an investor in HKEx, which charges a commission for trading. But it probably disappoints investors who jumped on the bandwagon for what is known as the new economy stocks.

Take, for example, smartphone maker Xiaomi Corp and food delivery Meituan Dianping, which were the high-profile stocks with weighted voting rights – a major reform devised by HKex to attract technology giants to come to list in Hong Kong, not New York, amid the cloud of the Sino-American trade war last year.

As it turned out, Xiaomi fell nearly one-third since its debut last July and Meituan has also fallen 20% to date, meaning that early investors managed to cash out but secondary market investors burnt their hands.

The situation has been better for bio-tech investors. Cancer treatment firm Beigene Limited and Ascletis Pharm may still fall between 30% and 60% but the subsequent investors seemed to have better luck.

For example, CStone Pharmaceuticals, the mainland biotechnology firm that raised nearly US$328 million for the city’s biggest IPO in the first quarter, were up 31% a month after its debut and still sat at about 10% above its offer price.

In fact, the new IPOs this year have been delivering the best returns in years, alongside with the strong four-consecutive equity performance in Hong Kong and China that reversed the toxic myth that IPOs were money-losers for investors.

Now, all eyes will be watching for Softbank, to see if it will be able to create some magic on its two mega-spinoffs – ride-hailing Uber Technologies and co-working space WeWork – with a high valuation that will net investors profits not seen since the Alibaba Group listed in 2014.

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