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Saudi Aramco and Alibaba made for a great 2019 in IPO market despite Uber, Lyft busts

Key Points
  • Saudi Aramco, Alibaba, Uber and Budweiser topped the list for the biggest IPOs of 2019.
  • The $2 trillion Saudi Aramco IPO marked the world's biggest share offering ever.
  • Competing IPOs Uber and Lyft have struggled to keep pace since their debuts.
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It's been a big year for public debuts.

Despite Uber and Lyft's high-profile busts, 2019 has been a banner year for initial public offerings around the world, with U.S. IPOs outperforming the S&P 500 year to date and Saudi Aramco making history with its $2 trillion premier, the biggest on record.

Overall, some 250 companies — new and old, domestic and multinational — filed to go public this year, a phenomenon some likened to the dotcom bubble of the late 1990s. Century-old Levi Strauss and newcomers including Pinterest and Beyond Meat offered their shares to individual investors, with annual IPOs reaching a multi-decade high.

Here are the 10 largest IPOs that hit major public markets around the world in 2019, according to FactSet.

1. Saudi Aramco IPO: Tadawul listing

Saudi Aramco's IPO priced on Dec. 5 at the top end of its range, a value of $1.7 trillion. The stock's first day of trading instantly made the energy giant, known officially as the Saudi Arabian Oil Co., the largest public company in the world.

Aramco's market cap rose to $2 trillion on its second day of trading on the Saudi Arabian stock exchange, Tadawul. That value represented an enormous premium to the world's next-largest public companies, Apple (US $1.26 trillion) and Microsoft (US $1.20 trillion).

With shares above 35 in Saudi Arabian riyals as of Friday, the company's market cap was over 7 trillion riyals (US $1.87 trillion). The stock is up less than half of 1% since the IPO.

2. Alibaba: Hong Kong listing

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba holds the title for 2019's second-largest IPO for its Hong Kong premiere. Priced at roughly $12.9 billion on Nov. 19, Alibaba ended up closing its order books earlier than anticipated after outsized demand drove its valuation to $13.8 billion.

At the time of its debut, Alibaba's Hong Kong IPO was the world's largest. The company was credited for breathing life into a region wrought by pro-democracy protests that slowed local business activity.

Hong-Kong-listed shares of Alibaba surged nearly 10% on their second day of trading. As of Friday, the stock was near 213 a share in Hong Kong dollars, boasting a market cap of more than 4.5 trillion HKD (US $577.9 billion). The stock is up nearly 13.5% since the IPO.

3. Uber IPO: NYSE listing

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi arrives at the New York Stock Exchange as his company makes its initial public offering, Friday, May 10, 2019.
Richard Drew | AP

Perhaps one of the year's most controversial IPOs was that of ride-hailing giant Uber Technologies. The largest U.S.-listed IPO of the year, Uber priced on May 9 at a valuation between $75.5 billion and $82.4 billion, towards the low end of its range and well below the $120 billion price tag it reportedly sought for the listing.

Uber's first day of trading on the New York Stock Exchange revealed Wall Street's lukewarm sentiments about the company, with shares falling nearly 8%. Lyft, which beat Uber to market by going public in March, has also struggled to garner enthusiasm among investors.

Uber's stock ended its first day on the public market with a valuation of $69.7 billion. Shares have shed nearly 33% since the IPO, closing just above the $30 level on Friday at a $51.5 billion market cap.

4. Budweiser: Hong Kong listing

Anheuser-Busch InBev's Budweiser IPO was Hong Kong's other 2019 blockbuster. Priced at a $5 billion valuation on Sep. 23 — towards the low end of its expected range — the debut marked AB InBev's second pass at listing Budweiser's Asia-Pacific business in Hong Kong this year. The initial attempt valued the company at $9.8 billion.

Budweiser shares rose about 4% on their first day of trading and spoke to the appetites of Asian investors, which were widely expected to be subdued by the ongoing protests in Hong Kong.

The Hong-Kong-listed stock closed at 27.50 HKD on Friday, implying a market cap of over 364 billion HKD (US $46.7 billion). Shares are down about 2.5% since the IPO.

5. Postal Savings Bank of China: Shanghai listing

The Postal Savings Bank of China, which runs the country's biggest network of retail banking branches, went public on its second Asian exchange this year with an IPO in Shanghai.

Its 2016 Hong Kong IPO priced the company at around 7.4 billion in Hong Kong dollars, well above the 4.67 billion price tag in Chinese yuan PSBC began trading with in Shanghai this year.

The Hong Kong debut saw PSBC's valuation climb to over 8 billion in HKD, but drew criticism for being propped up by a handful of "cornerstone investors," or institutional buyers with deep pockets, who were responsible for some 6 billion of the initial float.

This bank operator's 2019 Shanghai debut was delayed and more subdued, raising only about $4 billion. Shares closed up by just 2% on day one of trading as investors balked at the offering, which some took as IPO fatigue in the Chinese market.

As of Friday, the Shanghai stock was trading at ¥5.74 a share at a market cap of roughly ¥728.6 billion (US $104.1 billion). The Shanghai-listed shares have climbed over 2% since the IPO.

6. Shenzhen Transsion Holdings: Shanghai listing

Under-the-radar mobile device maker Shenzhen Transsion Holdings holds the title of 2019's sixth-biggest offering on a major market.

Virtually unknown outside of Africa, where it boasts nearly 50% market share, the company made waves when it priced its Shanghai debut at nearly 42.8 times trailing earnings, more than double the multiple assigned to shares of Apple.

Shenzhen gained even more traction on its first day of trading in late September, which pushed the stock's market cap to nearly $4 billion. Shares are down over 24.5% from the IPO date as of Friday, at ¥43.63 a share and a market cap of nearly ¥35 billion (US $5 billion).

7. Avantor IPO: NYSE listing

Avantor Inc.'s U.S. listing came in seventh for 2019's biggest IPOs. A chemical manufacturer supplying the life sciences industry, Avantor shares hit the public market in May at a $2.9 billion valuation, towards the low end of its predetermined range.

Owned by private equity firm New Mountain Capital, which purchased Avantor's business from biopharma supplier Covidien in 2010, the debut managed to raise over $3.3 billion in its first day of trading.

Avantor's market cap now sits at $10.4 billion as of Friday, with shares up over 30% since the IPO at $18.21.

8. Lyft IPO: Nasdaq listing

Lyft was the first in a wave of high-profile tech companies to go public in 2019, beating even first-mover Uber to market with its March IPO.

Priced at the top of its range at over $20 billion, the rival ride-hailing company — which said it accounted for 39% of U.S. market share by the end of 2018 — debuted to huge fanfare, with shares popping as much as 23% on their first day of trading.

Lyft's market cap climbed to $22.2 billion at the end of day one on Wall Street, but the excitement didn't last long. Its second day of trading saw Lyft fall below its IPO price, creating a dark cloud around the stock that it has struggled to shake since.

On Friday, Lyft shares closed at $45.84, down more than 36% from their IPO price and indicating a market cap of $13.6 billion.

9. XP Inc. IPO: Nasdaq listing

Financial services provider XP Inc. hit the Nasdaq in early December in the largest IPO of a Brazilian company this year.

Valued at $14.9 billion thanks to hefty private-sector backing from the U.S.-based General Atlantic and Brazil's largest private lender, the fintech platform raised $2.25 billion in its first trading day after pricing at the top end of its expected range. Shares soared 25% on day one as XP saw demand of roughly 14 times higher than was offered in its debut.

The successful premiere — XP's second pass at going public — sets other Brazilian IPO-hopefuls up well for potential U.S. debuts in the new year. As of Friday, XP shares are up nearly 12% since the IPO at $38.49, a market cap of about $21.2 billion.

10. TeamViewer IPO: Frankfurt listing

One of 2019's largest European IPOs was that of German software company TeamViewer, which specializes in remote-access and connectivity applications.

The cloud company was assigned a €5.8 billion valuation ahead of its late September listing, a notable premium for a filing in Frankfurt, where the market laden with industrial stocks. Its order book was oversubscribed almost instantly when it began selling shares to underwriters and other early buyers.

Having raised roughly €2.2 billion on its first day of trading, TeamViewer has had a strong run since, rising about 29% as of Friday's close and seeing its core profits nearly double. With the stock at €32.65 a share, its market cap currently sits at €6.58 billion (US $7.4 billion).

A Saudi trader talks to others in front of a screen displaying the Saudi stock market at the Arab National Bank in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019. Shares in Saudi Aramco gained on the second day of trading Thursday, propelling the oil and gas company to a more than $2 trillion valuation where it holds the title of the world's most valuable listed company.
Amr Nabil | AP