The special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) model, which gained huge momentum in the US last year, recently also enticed Asian tech companies as possible way to go public. They might soon have options closer to home as the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKEX) reportedly considers the introduction of SPACs, for which it has already been in contact with securities firms.
In response to the report, HKEX told a reporter of the Securities Times on Monday that “from time to time, we study various plans to strengthen or reform the listing system, not only to improve the competitiveness and attractiveness of the Hong Kong IPO market, but also to ensure that the quality of the market can be maintained.”
SPACs are shell companies that raise funds via public offerings to acquire unspecified enterprises. They don’t have a business model of its own beyond these financial transactions. Companies in technology and healthcare are especially popular targets for this model.
Several Southeast Asian unicorns like Tokopedia and Traveloka are considering this avenue to go public. Tokopedia’s investor SoftBank listed its first SPAC in the US in January, raising USD 525 million. And it won’t stop there. Earlier this month, the firm said that it will file for two more SPACs worth an additional USD 630 million, given the increasing interest from global tech investors.
Hong Kong welcomed major tech companies such as JD.com and NetEase on its bourse last year. As Asia’s preeminent financial hub, the city is set to benefit from the SPAC adoption across the region and HKEX could become the world’s second-largest SPAC market after the US. It doesn’t yet support SPAC listings, but the recent response signals that it is reviewing the idea.
Singapore has meanwhile been more straightforward in expressing its interest, hoping to list its first SPAC later this year if there is enough support from the industry, reported Bloomberg. It is not a new trend for the exchange as it had looked at the scheme back in 2010. At the time, there was not enough interest.