The slumping global economic climate has hit the Initial Public Offering (IPO) market worldwide, affecting companies in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). According to professional services firm Deloitte, Southeast Asia this year has seen a 52% fall in IPOs raised compared to last year, even though IPO count and IPO market capitalisation looked likely to remain steady. Data as of 11th November 2022 shows that companies raised US $6.3 billion from 136 IPOs, compared to a record US $13.3 billion from 152 IPOs in the entire year of 2021.

IPOs in Singapore were not spared either, despite the nation-state being a crucial market for Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) listings, as the listings have been absent in the first 10.5 months of 2022. It was the first time since 2010 that there had been no REIT listing in the country. ASEAN has only had four REIT listings this year, compared to ten in 2021. It highlights the stark economic differences from last year since REITs are considered a traditional stronghold in Southeast Asia. The REIT figures for 2021 represented 23% of all funds raised in ASEAN exchanges, including the Singapore Exchange (SGX), which is expected to fall in 2022. 

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VC trends in Singapore show that nine IPOs raised US $421 million (SG $572 million) in 10.5 months of this year. This figure is significantly lower than the US $712 million raised in the first half (H1) of last year and the US $628 million raised in H1 2020. 

The 2022 IPOs comprised three Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC) listings raising US $389 million and six Catalist IPOs raising US $32 million. SPACs are shell companies created to merge with or acquire private businesses, whereas Catalist means a sponsor-supervised listing on the SGX.

ASEAN and Singapore’s IPO outlook

Deloitte’s statistics for 2022 cover the period from 1st January to 11th November and they show that Singapore’s SPAC framework has had a positive start. Since SPACs in Singapore have two years to de-SPAC—with the option of extending for another year—it is expected that once companies de-SPAC successfully, it will encourage more SPAC listings to emerge. While the global economic climate is in a downturn, Deloitte notes that many businesses are moving their headquarters to Singapore, which will redirect capital flow into the country and create opportunities for the IPO market.

According to Darren Ng, Disruptive Events Advisory Deputy Leader for Deloitte Singapore, the country’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, the current border reopening and subsequent revival of economic activities, and political stability will attract more businesses into Singapore. He also believes the nation-state will have “golden years” in the IPO market if it can capitalise on the relocation of head offices into the country. 

Regional markets were flush with smaller-sized IPO listings and two large ones in the deals from Indonesia’s GoTo (Gojek and Tokopedia) and Thailand’s Thai Life Insurance company. Thailand and Indonesia raised the most amount of money in 2022 in Southeast Asia, each at above US $2 billion, which accounted for 76% of the total funds raised in the region. Malaysia’s IPO market experienced an uptick of 102% after emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic and raised US $681 million.

Southeast Asia has weathered the momentum slowdown in the IPO market after last year’s highs, fuelled by the global reemergence from the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns and the release of pent-up investor demand for tech startups. While ASEAN’s dip is 52%, the US and UK suffered more significant falls, with 95% and 91%, respectively. 

What does this mean for the region? 

The factors that have affected the economic markets include:

  • Interest rate hikes
  • Inflation
  • High energy and commodity costs
  • Supply chain disruptions
  • Reduced demand for goods and services
  • Decreasing global trade

ASEAN has also experienced a fall in exports. Even so, Southeast Asia’s economic and business landscape should be favourable in 2023, despite the many challenges and tensions worldwide. 

Ms Tay Hwee Ling, Deloitte Southeast Asia and Singapore’s Disruptive Events Advisory Leader, believes Southeast Asia’s IPO market performed well despite macroeconomic factors such as the pandemic, Federal Reserve interest rate hikes, and surging inflation.. She believes there is room for growth and that the market will recalibrate back to normal. Companies with solid fundamentals, good corporate governance, and profitability will be able to command high valuations in the market.

The VC trends in Singapore show investor interest, and opportunities are available for companies and SPACs to obtain listings on the SGX and global exchanges. While IPOs in Singapore raised lower numbers than in previous years, there is still a month to go to close out the year, and there may be deals that create momentum going into 2023.