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Chinese companies raised a record amount in initial public offerings at home this year, defying a global slump. And with the end of Covid Zero in sight, 2023 could be set for another strong showing.
Listings in Shanghai, Shenzhen and the recently inaugurated Beijing exchange brought in $92 billion this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That’s propelled China’s share in the global tally for IPO proceeds to 46%, nearly four times the US, from just 13% at the end of last year.
After a push by local authorities in recent years, a slew of factors have enabled the feat. Policy easing in the Asian country has been a key catalyst just as rising borrowing costs deterred listings in traditional venues such as Hong Kong and London. At the same time, China’s crumbling real-estate market forced many investors to look for an alternative to put their money to work.
“The pipeline of high-quality Chinese companies with ambitions of an IPO has only grown during 2022, and will continue to do so throughout 2023,” said James Bean, an ECM portfolio manager at Myriad Asset Management. “Many of these will look to raise capital as soon as there is further evidence of success in the transition to a post Covid-Zero economy and support for the domestic labor market,” among other reasons, he said.
Past performance has also played a role in luring buyers. Newly listed shares in China tend to fare much better on average than the overall market due to valuation rules that regulate IPOs.
Overall, there have been 391 debuts in China this year. Nine of them raised above $1 billion, accounting for about 40% of all deals of that size or bigger globally. New York bourses hosted only two IPOs of that magnitude, Hong Kong had three and Europe had just one, in Germany.
China’s domestic pipeline for next year is solid. About 376 companies have announced IPO plans over the past six months that are now under pending status, data compiled by Bloomberg show, meaning they could go public in 2023.
DOHA, Qatar — Duncan Farr, a stockbroker from Scotland, arrived at his five-star hotel here for the World Cup only to learn the establishment was dry. So he set out to build his schedule not only around soccer, but also around finding cold beer.
“There’s no spontaneity,” Mr. Farr concedes. By his fourth day in the country, he was downing Stella Artois at the Irish Pub on the 14th floor of a Best Western hotel. “You’ve got to plan it,” he adds. “If you plan it, it’s fine.”
An unusual tailgating ritual has fans buzzing — well, at least trying to anyway — at the Qatar World Cup, which banned alcohol sales outside stadium perimeters just ahead of the sports extravaganza.
There is booze in Qatar, but given the tiny Muslim Gulf state’s tight restrictions, getting it takes far more money and machinations than most drinkers are used to.
Thirsty fans are now badgering locals about where to find a drink and trekking miles from the stadium to guzzle brews at hotel bars.
Unlike neighboring Saudi Arabia and Iran, where the production, sale and consumption of alcohol is illegal, Qatar permits booze but penalizes public intoxication with up to six months in jail. Bars are confined to international hotels and, during the World Cup, three cruise ships docked in Doha. The entire country of three million people has two liquor stores, which are owned by the state.
Iranian university professor Ali Mirza, 40, says he got dirty looks for asking strangers in supermarkets how to buy alcohol to bring back to his apartment rental. On his last day in Qatar, he found a beach club where he could buy drinks after paying a $41 entry fee.
The search for beer led England fan Alex Sullivan and his father to seek help from a wealthy Qatari who instead invited them to his palatial home to play videogames and tour his private menagerie.
“It was nuts,” Mr. Sullivan, 23, who works in e-commerce, told a British radio station. Videos of him wrestling a pet lion cub and cruising around Doha in his host’s Lamborghini went viral. In a brief interview, Mr. Sullivan says the encounter never did lead to a beer, though he enjoyed the local cardamom-scented coffee.
A group of Croatian fans recall being so desperate for booze, they got the phone number of a local taxi driver, who offered to resell them beer from his personal stock. (Reselling alcohol is also illegal there.)
The two state-owned liquor stores in Qatar sell only to foreigners, who pay for a license — roughly $27 to $41 a year, depending on duration — that allows them to spend a defined portion of their income on alcohol for personal consumption.
From October to the end of the World Cup, the Qatari government has doubled the monthly limit on alcohol spending and closed the more centrally located outlet which visiting fans were more likely to stumble across.
Restricting alcohol is part of the country’s attempt to stage-manage nearly every aspect of the world’s largest sporting event, from the temperature on the field to the number of spectators queuing at stadium turnstiles.
Ahead of the tournament, organizers originally planned to allow drinking in designated areas outside the stadiums. But two days before the opening match, organizers reversed course.
“I have seen people try to drink at the hotel before they leave to try to get into party mode,” says Luis Arciniega, 45, a finance worker from Mexico who visited Qatar for the World Cup. “But once they get to the stadium they are sleepy and lazy.”
During November’s opening match, so many spectators crammed into the FIFA Fan Festival — one of the few public areas in Doha serving beer for a few hours each night — that police formed a human chain to prevent people from entering.
Disappointed fans had to take the metro or walk half an hour to the city’s West Bay business district to be served.
There, at Champions sports bar inside a Marriott Marquis, music blared and beer flowed freely.
Eddie Keenan, a 22-year-old student from London, said he and his friends failed to get into the fan zone and another open-air venue.
“Our last resort was to come here,” he said, beside a stack of empty pint glasses.
Once fans figure out where to secure suds, the next obstacle is cost.
Because of taxes and scarcity, Qatar is among the world’s most expensive places to buy booze with a beer typically costing about $14.
The booze rules have watered down some of the typical World Cup atmosphere, where fans mingle in the streets and sometimes cause exactly the sort of trouble sleepy Qatar is keen to avoid.
Visitors, including some 1,000 Wales fans, have skirted limitations on public drinking by arranging meetups through Facebook, or booking out three bars in the Intercontinental Hotel.
Still, spectators say they miss the usual camaraderie outside the stadium.
“No one is going to go stand around there in the heat without a drink,” says David Holmes, 61, who works in home and car loans in Cardiff.
Qatari officials including Hassan Al Thawadi defend the alcohol restrictions and point to fans dancing together and posting on social media about feeling welcome in the country.
“It’s a celebration,” he says.
Tents near the stadium entrances have ended up serving only Budweiser Zero, a nonalcoholic option.
“The water tastes nicer,” says Eric Christie, a business owner from Northern Ireland.
(Wall Street Journal)