December 4, 2019 / 9:30 AM / 2 days ago

China's SDIC adds to Europe's IPO market woes by pulling London listing

(Reuters) - Chinese power generation company SDIC (600886.SS) postponed on Wednesday plans for an offering of global depositary receipts (GDRs) in London, setting the seal on what has been a miserable year for initial public offerings across Europe.

FILE PHOTO: A power station of the State Development & Investment Corporation (SDIC) is reflected in a lake in Tangshan, Hebei province, China, August 22, 2018. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

SDIC, which was set to become the second Chinese company to make use of the Shanghai-London Stock Connect scheme, said it would not go ahead with the listing, blaming market conditions.

The London market for listings, which was relatively resilient in the first half of the year, has had an extremely tough time of it since the summer, with Indian special effects firm DNEG and Kazakh finance firm KASPI.KZ pulling deals.

Overall, the number of initial public offerings in London has halved this year so far, with just $4.82 billion of deals getting over the line - the lowest volume since 2009 in the aftermath of the financial crisis, according to Refinitiv data.

SDIC was preparing to list GDRs worth about 10% of its market capitalization, which would have put the deal size at around $830 million.

“The company believes this is a prudent decision and is in the best interests of its existing and future shareholders,” SDIC said in a statement.

The news crowns what has been a disappointing year for stock fundraisings globally, and in Europe in particular.

No British firm has attempted an IPO since the summer amid Brexit uncertainty and Africa-focused telecoms firm Helios Towers is one of the few deals to get over the line and perform well in the aftermarket.

SDIC’s postponement is also a blow to Britain’s bid to cement ties with China, as it looks to build relationships with non-European countries to prepare for life outside of the European Union.

A source close to the transaction stressed that this was a postponement rather than a cancellation, and the deal could return “relatively quickly” - perhaps even early 2020.

A second pointed out that Huatai Securities (HTSCq.L) (601688.SS), the first Chinese company to utilize the Shanghai-London Stock Connect scheme, also postponed its plans in late 2018 before completing a $1.7 billion deal earlier this year.

Most people involved were reticent to talk about the specifics of the SDIC deal, though one pointed to the political uncertainty in Britain, with a general election looming next week, the result of which could also determine whether or not the UK leaves the European Union at the end of January.

Goldman Sachs, HSBC and UBS were joint global coordinators on the deal.

The postponement adds to what has been a bleak year for European IPOs, which were down 40% in the first three quarters of the year at $16.98 billion equivalent and the lowest since 2013, according to Refinitiv data.

Reuters first reported SDIC’s plans for the London listing back in July, though sources said regulatory delays meant the deal was only launched in November, with pricing expected a week or so before Christmas.

Reporting by Pushkala Aripaka in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Susan Fenton

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