Photographer: Anthony Kwan/Bloomberg

IPO Fever Hits Hong Kong Market as 1-in-20 People Try to Buy

Updated on
  • Tencent unit China Literature draws huge investor demand
  • Locked-up funds drive Hong Kong interbank rates higher

Hong Kong demand for new share sales has hit fever pitch, with 417,000 people applying for lots in Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s online bookstore unit -- more than 5 percent of the city’s population.

China Literature Ltd.’s retail offering was 625 times oversubscribed, according to the company. That locked up at least HK$520 billion ($67 billion), or a third of the city’s monetary base, the South China Morning Post reported. It’s easy to see why the clamor: China Literature’s shares surged as much as 100 percent on their Wednesday debut before closing up 86 percent.

Interest in initial public offerings is so intense it’s affecting the city’s interbank rates. The overnight Hibor fixing jumped 2.1 percentage points on Oct. 31, the most in a decade, as investors placed orders for China Literature.

"You can tell Hong Kong investors like tech stocks," said Daniel So, Hong Kong-based strategist with CMB International Securities Ltd. "If you’d managed to get the stock, you’d have made a lot of money.”

China Literature’s IPO follows ZhongAn Online P&C Insurance Co., which went public in September. The first major fintech listing in Hong Kong, and backed by Ant Financial, the owner of Alipay, the retail portion was almost 400 times oversubscribed. Focus will now shift to Razer Inc., a manufacturer of high-spec gaming accessories, which will begin trading in Hong Kong on Monday after raising $529 million.

Hong Kong has gone through periods of IPO fever before, notably in 2006-2007 before the onset of global financial crisis and in 2000 before the dotcom bubble burst. The Hang Seng Index has rallied 31 percent this year to a decade-high.

China Literature is the mainland’s biggest publisher of e-books, offering a similar business model to Inc.’s Kindle Store.

(An earlier version of this story corrected the level of China Literature’s oversubscription)

— With assistance by Ben Scent, and Fion Li

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