‘Phase one’ trade deal would give IPO market certainty

‘Phase one’ trade deal would give IPO market certainty

A so-called “phase one” trade deal between the U.S. and China should be enough to remove the uncertainty that’s overshadowed initial public offerings this year, said Robert McCooey, the chairman of Nasdaq Asia-Pacific.

While there is still widespread interest from Chinese companies to list in the U.S., the uncertainty surrounding the protracted trade conflict between the world’s two largest economies has affected public listings this year.

“Investors are worried about China, they are worried about the ripple effects of the trade war, McCooey said at the CNBC’s East Tech West conference in the Nansha district of Guangzhou, China on Monday.

In May, McCooey said he expected over 40 initial public offerings from China in the U.S. in 2019.

On Monday, CNBC’s Nancy Hungerford asked if that target would be met. He replied: “We will probably get to close to 35 to 38 again this year.”

The two sides are currently negotiating a “phase one” deal and there are growing hopes that the partial deal will be agreed. The Chinese Ministry of Commerce said on the weekend that both sides had “constructive discussions” about “each other’s core concerns.”

However, it’s not expected to cover more sensitive structural issues that have plagued negotiations for months.

“So therefore some of the valuations haven’t really come in exactly where the companies would have wanted and I think they were waiting for there to be some more certainty,” McCooey added.

Robert McCooey, the Chairman for Asia Pacific at NASDAQ

Dave Zhong | Getty Images for CNBC

Asked whether a phase-one deal between the U.S. and China would be enough to remove such uncertainty, even if it didn’t involve resolving structural issues, he said: “I do, because at the end of the day, a lot of those things have really nothing to do with how companies are going to list, the process of them listing in the U.S.”

“Most of these companies have already done their structures … to do an offshore listing,” he added.

Alibaba listing

Despite increasingly violent protests in Hong Kong, the stock exchange there has attracted numerous high-profile listings including Budweiser APAC, the second biggest market debut in 2019.

Just last week, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba announced it’s looking to raise up to $13.8 billion in its upcoming secondary listing in Hong Kong

The Chinese company will set the final offer price by Nov. 20 and its Hong Kong shares are expected to begin trading on Nov. 26.

Asked whether competition with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange would increase if Alibaba’s initial public offering there were successful, McCooey said it could do but stressed Alibaba was in a league of its own.

“I think Alibaba is a very unique case, not everyone is Alibaba. Not everyone is a $500 billion market cap company,” he said.

— CNBC’s Arjun Kharpal and Spencer Kimball contributed to this story.

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