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Editorial : Alibaba's IPO

【明報專訊】THE anti-amendment storm has gone on for months and has dealt a heavy blow to Hong Kong's real economy. But the situation is very different in the capital market. Alibaba is to launch its IPO in Hong Kong, and its retail portion has been 40 times oversubscribed. In other words, it is to become the biggest IPO in Hong Kong in nine years.

It is estimated that up to HK$100 billion will be raised in the Alibaba IPO, thus making it the third biggest IPO in Hong Kong history. As the anti-amendment storm drags on and the Hong Kong economy is in recession, the turmoil in society has no end in sight. It was once rumoured that Alibaba would suspend its secondary listing plan in view of the situation in Hong Kong. Alibaba's decision to go ahead with the IPO can no doubt be seen as a vote of confidence in the future of Hong Kong and can be viewed as a kind of support for Hong Kong's status as an international financial centre. However, it has to be said that Alibaba is concerned about the developmental needs of itself. Its plan to raise funds cannot be delayed further. Furthermore, as Washington could act to suppress Chinese corporations listed in the US, Alibaba could diversify the risk by its secondary listing in Hong Kong.

In the era of globalisation, there can be a world of difference between the world of financial elites and the real economy or the social situation. Over the past few years, the anti-globalisation and anti-elite waves in Europe and the US have, to a certain extent, reflected the incongruity. Hong Kong is no exception. The Sino-US trade war and anti-amendment storm have put Hong Kong's real economy under immense pressure over the past half year. But there has been limited effect on the capital markets. Between June and October alone, US$14.767 billion was raised in Hong Kong IPOs, making Hong Kong the most active capital market in the world again.

New York, London and Hong Kong are the three biggest financial centres in the world. Each of them has a different footing and is a magnet for capital of their respective regions and even the world. In Asia, Hong Kong's capital market is larger in scale than Singapore's and more internationalised than Tokyo's. Mainland corporations choosing to become globalised find it natural to raise capital in Hong Kong. This is why Hong Kong, which does not have a thriving internet economy, is a place where premium technological companies from the mainland such as Tencent, Alibaba, Meituan Dianping and Xiaomi are clustered. Being listed in both Hong Kong and the US is also beneficial to Alibaba's developmental strategy of globalisation.

For Hong Kong's capital market, it will be the best thing if Alibaba's decision to go public in Hong Kong can encourage more strong corporations from the mainland to choose Hong Kong rather than New York as the first choice for their IPOs. Some investors even expect that Hong Kong stocks will rise significantly when the anti-amendment storm is over, just as they did in the aftermath of the 1967 riots and 2003 SARS epidemic. However, the fanfare accompanying Alibaba's IPO does not have a clear relationship with Hong Kong's real economy. Those who make a judgement on Hong Kong's future based on Alibaba's IPO could be grossly mistaken.

Hong Kong's economic resilience is under unprecedentedly immense challenge. It remains uncertain whether there will be a swift recovery. We cannot take it for granted that Hong Kong's status as an international financial centre will be as solid as a rock in the long term.

明報社評2019.11.22:「阿里」招股旺場冲喜 港金融中心地位有憂

反修例風暴持續多月,香港實體經濟重挫,然而資本市場又是另一番光景,阿里巴巴在港上市招股,公開發售部分錄得40倍超額認購,勢成9年來在港集資規模最大的新股。

今次阿里上市集資規模,估計最終可達1000億港元,成為港股歷史上第三大IPO。反修例風暴曠日持久,香港經濟衰退,社會動盪未知何時方休,早前市場一度流傳,阿里因應香港形勢,暫緩第二上市計劃。今次阿里決定「去馬」上市,當然可以視為對香港前景投下信心一票,對香港國際金融中心地位有支持作用,然而必須指出的是,阿里考慮到自身發展需要,集資計劃總不能一拖再拖,加上華府可能出手打壓在美國上市的中國企業,阿里來港作第二上市,至少可以分散風險。

全球化之下的金融精英世界,跟實體經濟和社會狀况,可以差天共地,過去數年歐美出現的反全球化反精英浪潮,某程度反映了這一矛盾,香港情况亦不例外。中美貿易戰和反修例風暴,近半年對香港實體經濟帶來很大壓力,可是資本市場所受影響相對有限,單計今年6月至10月,本港IPO集資額便達到147.67億美元,再成全球最活躍集資市場。

紐約、倫敦和香港作為世界三大國際金融中心,各有立足點,廣納區內以至全球資本。環顧全亞洲,香港資本市場規模較新加坡大,國際化程度也勝過東京,內地巨企走向全球化,在港集資是其中一個很自然的選擇。這亦是為何香港作為互聯網經濟並不發達的地區,卻集齊了騰訊、阿里、美團、小米等內地優質科技公司。阿里同時在港美兩地上市,亦有利集團全球化的發展戰略。

對香港資本市場而言,阿里來港上市,若能鼓勵更多有實力內地企業以香港而非紐約作為上市首選,當然最好不過,有投資者甚至憧憬,一待反修例風暴過去,港股可大幅上揚,一如六七暴動或2003年SARS疫潮過後的強烈反彈一樣。然而阿里招股反應熱烈,跟香港實體經濟並無明顯關係,若以此研判香港前景,可能謬以千里。

香港經濟韌力面對前所未有嚴峻考驗,能否迅速復元反彈仍是未知數,也不能理所當然假設,香港國際金融中心地位長遠一定穩如泰山。

■Glossary

a magnet (for sb/sth) : a person, place or thing that sb/sth is attracted to

mistaken : wrong in your opinion or judgement

as solid as a rock : having a very strong basis

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