In 2019, growth equity firm Asia Partners made several predictions in its Internet Report about how things would look in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in ten years. The report predicted more tech companies becoming unicorns (having a billion-dollar valuation) and some pursuing Initial Public Offerings (IPOs) over the next decade. The Asia Partners Report on IPO in 2023 has found that most predictions have come true. Southeast Asia is either ahead of schedule on the remaining predictions or has done better than expected, despite the 52% decrease in IPOs raised compared to last year.

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According to the latest report, there have been seven new tech IPOs in Southeast Asia since 2019. Further, there is a belief that the region will cross the tech IPO targets by 2029.

Comparison: 2019 predictions and 2023 findings

Asia Partners believed in 2019 that ASEAN was on the right track to prosperity in the next decade. The firm, which is committed to investing in tech companies that can benefit Southeast Asia’s economy, noticed that the region was entering what would be a “golden age of rising affluence”. This idea centred on the transformation that occurred in places like China and Korea in the past when they had large tech companies forming.

The 2019 report saw the region’s opportunities increasing, equity values rising, and the investment ecosystem being ready for growth equity, especially to boost the Series C and D funding. 

Another prediction was that more first-generation tech company alums would go on to become the next-generation founders. At the time, there were 28,000 graduates, with 1,200 starting businesses. 

Finally, Asia Partners predicted that there would be 20+ tech unicorns in Southeast Asia by 2029. Moreover, they expected at least half of those companies to pursue IPOs in the next ten years.

According to the 2023 Internet Report, most of the 2019 predictions have been accomplished, with a few remaining. Since 2019, seven IPO deals have occurred, meaning that the region is on course to reach 10+ deals by 2029. ASEAN is slightly lagging—achieving 15% so far—on new and established tech companies raising $400 billion of equity value by 2029.

By 2021, it seemed that the public equity markets were overvalued. Global Market Capitalisation (GMC), global nominal GDP (gross domestic product), and the ratio between GMC and nominal GDP were trending upward. Sometimes the figures will be below the growth rate, however. Now, there will likely be more significant problems as the world faces the pitfalls of a recession.

Challenges faced in Southeast Asia on IPOs

While there are many positive trends for ASEAN in the markets, they still have to deal with global economic problems. For several months, the US Federal Reserve has raised interest rates, plunging the world economy into chaos. Many currencies are currently down, and countries are trying to manage inflationary issues.

Furthermore, the impact of COVID-19 is still being felt, with borders worldwide still needing to be fully open to trade. Imports and exports are down in many countries as a result. The war between Russia and Ukraine has affected supply chains, making them unreliable, risky, and costly.

Asia Partners believe the world is headed toward a global recession. Global leaders, especially in developed countries, say a recession will not happen, and if it does, it will be “slight”. In the US, the President maintained his stance that there would not be a recession. Major companies like Goldman Sachs Group agreed, saying there was a way to avoid it. In a Bloomberg report, Goldman Sachs Group maintained a 35% probability of a recession occurring.

However, Asia Partners’ research shows that it is possible to predict whether a recession is imminent. They use the US ten-year treasury yield compared to the two-year yield to predict what will happen in a few months. Moreover, the firm thinks US recessions have a correlated global impact. Thus, Asia Partners believe the recession will occur, affecting many people, businesses, and stock markets in Southeast Asia and the world.

Even though capital may diminish due to investors being affected by the recession, it does not mean that companies cannot create value. With good corporate governance, proper fund management, innovation, and customer service, startups can navigate these testing waters. Once they get through it, they can make a move in the markets and deliver an IPO.     

Future outlook on tech IPOs

According to the e-Conomy SEA 2022 report, investors are confident in Southeast Asia’s long-term prospects. Deal activity looks likely to rise between 2025-2030, and they may focus on companies with environmental, social, and governance (ESG) embedded in their policies.

The Asia Partners Report on IPO shows the successes and the challenges for the region in the long term. Nevertheless, the IPO trends Southeast Asia is experiencing shows that ASEAN is primed for success by 2029.