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U.S. losing IPO pole position: survey
LONDON (Reuters) - The United States is losing its appeal as leading global center for stock market flotations, hit by restrictive regulations and competition from other financial centers, a survey of American lawyers showed on Thursday.
Just over 70 percent of a 50-strong sample of transaction attorneys, whose firms advised on three-quarters of initial public offerings (IPO) listed on major U.S. exchanges this year, said the country is losing its attraction as IPO venue of choice.
"The simple fact is that as the U.S. regulatory environment has become more restrictive, other global exchanges have become more sophisticated and liquid and therefore have gained market share," said Joshua Ford Bonnie, a partner at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett.
Companies considering an IPO in the United States will have to come to terms with the so-called Dodd-Frank financial reform, which affects among other things the governance and disclosure landscape.
The new environment aims at reducing systemic risks by establishing claw-back policies and the exposure of corporate fraud through whistleblower protection and incentives.
However, the regulatory regime will not deter Chinese companies, which all the respondents to the KCSA Strategic Communications poll saw as strong drivers of U.S.-based IPO activity in 2011.
"We expect that Chinese companies will, at least in the near term, continue to list on U.S. exchanges due to the more clearly defined listing rules and regulations and the perceived stability and prestige of the U.S. markets," said Colin Diamond, partner at law firm White & Case.
Lawyers are also expecting companies based in other emerging economies to contribute to IPO traffic, with 37 and 30 percent of respondents naming Brazil and India respectively as countries that will drive global IPO issuance.
Despite concern over the U.S. position as a global IPO hub, sentiment for next year's IPO market was positive, with 77 percent of those surveyed anticipating a stronger IPO market in 2011.
Private equity-backed companies will dominate the IPO landscape in 2011, according to 74 percent of attorneys surveyed, with technology and life science as the top two sectors driving issuance.
(Editing by Raji Menon and David Holmes)
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