Can a Pawn Shop Turn Hong Kong's IPO Market Around?
Hong Kong's first-ever initial public offering (IPO) by a pawn shop has caught the imagination of retail investors, sending shares of the new entrant Oi Wah Pawnshop Credit Holdings surging over 30 percent on its debut on Tuesday.
Could this small, $12.9 million listing - which was more than a thousand times oversubscribed – be the catalyst that injects life back into Hong Kong's lackluster IPO market?
Not likely, says Jackson Wong, vice president at Tanrich Securities, given that risk appetite remains muted and investors have become more discerning.
"I think the water is warmer right now, however, we aren't ready for bigger IPOs (in Hong Kong)," he told CNBC on Tuesday.
Hong Kong's once red-hot IPO market witnessed a 65 percent decline in total funds raised in 2012, compared to the previous year, knocking the city off its top spot as a destination for fund raising. The city fell to fourth place in the global rankings for IPOs in 2012, after coming in first place for three years from 2009-2011.
(Read More: Is 2012 as Bad as It Gets for Hong Kong's IPOs?)
The success of Oi Wah can be attributed to its unique offering and reasonable price, said Wong adding that these two things are critical for a firm to have a "blockbuster" listing in Hong Kong.
"We already have tons of big firms listed in Hong Kong, so unless they are priced at a very reasonable range – they wouldn't do as well," Wong said.
"When you compare the market to 2005-2008, those were the hay days for IPOs, any big names from China would be very well received by Hong Kong investors, but accounting scandals recently and high valuations have put investors off," he added.
However, Wong thinks if a company like Alibaba were to come to the market, it would be well received, given the scarcity of internet stocks listed in Hong Kong.
"We don't have many internet stocks in Hong Kong – just Tencent – these kinds of names [Alibaba] would attract more investors because they have better selling points than banks or brokerage firms," he said.
There is a pipeline of companies waiting to raise capital in the Hong Kong market this year, including China's seventh largest brokerage Galaxy Securities, which announced plans for a $1.5 billion listing, Hong Kong conglomerate New World Development, which is looking to list its hospitality assets and China Everbright Bank.