Cloudy outlook after strong first half for global share sales

Fri Jun 28, 2013 3:59am EDT

* Worldwide equity fundraising up 36 pct to $380.7 bln in H1

* Goldman Sachs tops global equity capital market rankings

* U.S. accounts for more than a third of activity

* Return of choppy markets clouds outlook

By Kylie MacLellan and Olivia Oran

LONDON/NEW YORK, June 28 (Reuters) - Global equity fundraising rose 36 percent year-on-year in the first six months of 2013, supported by improving stock markets, though recent losses have put a question mark over a string of deals expected after the summer lull.

Volatility has spiked in the past few weeks, triggered by concerns the Federal Reserve may trim back its stimulus policies and worries about a weaker Chinese economy, already prompting some companies to scrap stock market debuts or cut offer prices.

Last week Brazilian cement company Votorantim Cimentos postponed its $3.7 billion U.S. listing, while on Wednesday industrial and construction supplies company HD Supply Holdings raised less than expected from its market debut.

For now however, with the typically quieter summer period approaching, bankers said preparations are continuing for businesses planning to come to market later in the year.

"The markets have been more volatile the last few weeks. We'll have to wait and see whether it settles down or if this is the start of a more negative period. I think it is more likely to be the former," Ken Brown, Global head of Equity Capital Markets (ECM) at Nomura, told Reuters.

"There are a lot of transactions to come post-summer. Preparations are well underway on those deals, so it would take a lot more than a few bad days to suspend those efforts."

A total of $380.7 billion was raised worldwide from share sales in the first half of the year, Thomson Reuters data showed on Friday. Activity was dominated by the United States, which accounted for 35 percent all issuance.

Goldman Sachs, which was involved in some of the biggest deals of the first half such as Dutch telecoms group KPN's 3 billion euro rights issue, topped ECM investment banking league tables globally. JP Morgan followed in second place, with Morgan Stanley in third.

Just over 70 percent of money raised came from follow-on offerings, as companies and their owners took advantage of strong equity markets to raise extra funds or exit stakes.

Bank capital hikes such as Deutsche Bank's $3.9 billion share sale and a $3.3 billion offering by Russia's VTB , helped to make financials the most active sector.

Real estate was the second busiest area as investors looking to take advantage of the recovering U.S. housing market flocked to offerings from companies such as home builder William Lyon Homes, while Europe's biggest listing of the year so far came from German real estate group LEG Immobilien.

ALL EYES ON U.S. FED

Initial public offerings (IPOs) globally were up 4 percent on last year, with Europe in particular seeing a strong rebound as investor worries over the euro zone sovereign crisis subdued.

At $10.2 billion, the volume of new listings in Europe was more than double the same period last year.

"The attractive valuations of European equities has seen more American investors putting money into Europe. Inflows into equities and lower volatility earlier this year have also helped," said JP Morgan co-head of EMEA ECM Klaus Hessberger.

Many of the deals on both sides of the Atlantic were private equity exits, such as Cinven's flotation of life insurer Partnership Assurance in London and drug research firm Quintiles Transnational Holdings flotation in New York.

"We're seeing a diverse business mix of tech, industrials, energy, financial services and healthcare all with very high levels of activity," said Jeff Bunzel, Deutsche Bank's head of ECM for the Americas. "We're not just dependent on one sector."

In contrast, Asia Pacific has seen a drop off in new listings with issuers from the region representing the lowest year-to-date share of the global IPO market since 2002.

Overall, equity issuance in Asia ex-Japan rose 5 percent in the first half to $86.8 billion, as a boom in Thailand, Philippines and other Southeast Asian markets offset a decline in regional powerhouses Hong Kong and China.

Upcoming deals such as China Everbright Bank's up to $2 billion Hong Kong listing and an up to $3.3 billion offering by Manila Electric will be largely dependent on more stable markets and visibility on U.S. rates, bankers said.

"There's a very large pipeline of transactions across the region looking to launch once there is some stability in the market," said Chito Jeyarajah, chief operating officer of ECM, Asia ex-Japan, at Goldman Sachs in Hong Kong.

Many of the large U.S. deals expected later this year are in the energy and real estate sectors, including Empire State Realty Trust, energy company Antero Resources and real estate investment trust American Homes 4 Rent.

"Our general advice to companies is to go," said Frank Maturo, vice chairman for ECM at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

"Although volatility has picked up, it's more about macro concerns, including currency depreciations and weakness in emerging markets, versus company fundamentals."

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