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Asia's IPOs Hit by a Drought

Hong Kong and Singapore are feeling the pinch the most from the global liquidity crunch as companies cancel deals worth billions
An Indian stock trader takes a nap between trading. Indian share prices plunged 5.76 percent in afternoon trade on February 11, 2008.
An Indian stock trader takes a nap between trading. Indian share prices plunged 5.76 percent in afternoon trade on February 11, 2008. NOAH SEELAM/AFP/Getty Images

A year ago, Asian initial public offerings were so popular that investors literally were queuing up around the block to get shares. It would still be months before anyone got even a whiff of the subprime crisis, and the region was flush with liquidity from hedge fund managers, mutual funds, and high-net-worth investors. The Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Mumbai markets were on fire and the IPO pipeline was positively gushing with companies eager to tap markets and investors happy to part with their money. It wasn't uncommon for shares to see triple-digit gains on their first day of trading as everyone from tea ladies to tycoons jumped on the gravy train.

But these days the contrast couldn't be starker. With the shock waves of the subprime crisis continuing to spread and bears stalking equity markets worldwide, the global liquidity crunch has taken a heavy toll on Asia's IPO market (BusinessWeek.com, 1/16/08). Financial hubs Hong Kong and Singapore are feeling the pinch the most. Hong Kong has had just one listing this year, New Media Group Holdings, and the IPO raised a mere $13.1 million.