Year winds down, HK IPOs just ramping up

Why Hong Kong IPO fever will increase next year

Hong Kong's market for initial public offerings (IPOs) looks like it's kicking into gear, just as the year winds down.

China Cinda Asset Management, which raised $2.5 billion in this year's biggest Hong Kong IPO, began trading on Thursday. Jintian Pharma, a Chinese pharmaceutical distributor, and port operator QHD Port also made their trading debuts.

The flurry of year-end listings is a sign of things to come in 2014, say analysts, who expect a busier year for Hong Kong IPOs.

(Read more: Chinese IPOs: Hot, hot, hot!)

"If you look at the pipeline, there are over 100 companies still waiting to come into the Hong Kong market over the next year, so we see a more active IPO market in 2014," said Edmond Chan, partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Hong Kong, citing positive signs from U.S. markets as one reason for the improved outlook for IPOs.

Hong Kong has suffered a drop in IPO volumes in the last two years, but deals are starting to pick up and analysts attribute that partly to improved sentiment in global markets as well as towards China, following news last month of plans for sweeping economic reforms.

Cinda Asset Management, China's biggest distressed debt manager, soared over 20 percent when its shares started trading on Thursday.

"The appeal of Cinda is very thematic at the moment, in the sense that you have a slowing China [economy], rising bad debts," Ismael Pili, head of financials research for Asia at Macquarie Securities, told CNBC Asia's "The Call." "On the back of improved sentiment following the Third Plenum, one way to get exposure [to China] is to buy into this new IPO," he added, referring to last month's key meeting of China's leadership.

Traders work on the floor of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on October 11, 2013.
Anthony Wallace | AFP | Getty Images

(Read more: What you need to know about China's Third Plenum)

According to Reuters, the Cinda listing is the largest IPO in the Asia-Pacific region since the $3.1 billion listing of People's Insurance Company Group of China (PICC) in Hong Kong in November 2012.

It also comes ahead of another big Hong Kong listing expected next week – a $2.8 billion IPO from China Everbright Bank, a midsized Chinese lender.

"There has been concern in the last few months that the really large-sized issues are not going to perform well, which has been the case. Smaller IPOs have been performing significantly better," said Stephen Sheung, head of investment strategy at SHK Private in Hong Kong.

"With this major one [Cinda] performing well today, that could change the perception towards the larger-sized IPOs. And looking into next year, we expect the market to be hot with more IPOs compared with this year," he added.

The outlook generally for new listings by Chinese firms or companies with exposure to China appears to have improved in recent weeks.

Earlier this month, Chinese authorities said that would allow new listings to resume next year following a freeze on IPOs that lasted over a year. On Wednesday meanwhile Chinese online auto site Autohome soared on its market debut in New York.

(Read more: Twitter IPO could set tone for an Alibaba listing)

The icing on the cake for Hong Kong's IPO market could be a possible listing of Chinese tech giant Alibaba, which is reported to be mulling a listing in either Hong Kong or New York next year.

"Over here we would like to see it [Alibaba] coming here, but there is still a lot of speculation and we don't know if it's coming here or [going] to the U.S. yet," Shueng added.

— By CNBC.Com's Dhara Ranasinghe; Follow her on Twitter @DharaCNBC