Thailand leads region in IPOs for third straight year

Southeast Asia scored over $10 billion in stock debuts this year for the first time since 2017 with Thailand leading the region in initial public offerings for the third straight year as the local market flexed its muscles.

American management consultancy Deloitte said that its data indicated how Thailand led the region in new listings by a wide margin. A total of 35 Thai companies and real estate trusts raised $4.2 billion in initial public offerings (IPOs) as of November this year.

Some analysts said that IPOs in the region had become more attractive to investors because the alternatives, such as bonds, were less alluring in an environment where interest rates are expected to remain low.

Thailand got off to a fast start in 2021 with the giant IPO of PTT Oil and Retail Business (PTTOR), the state oil conglomerate’s retail arm. PTTOR raised $1.6 billion in its February debut. That was followed by microfinance firm Ngern Tid Lor’s IPO, which garnered $1.1 billion in May.

“These companies are pursuing new strategic directions that require higher investment and may appear too risky for the banking sector’s appetite. For example, international or regional expansion, or online retail and services,” said Pavida Pananond, a professor of International Business at Thammasat University, in an interview with Nikkei Asia.

Earlier this year, Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) President Pakorn Peetathawatchai said that he would like to see the exchange host 30 to 50 IPOs each year with an average value of over $7 billion.

The Kingdom met the President’s goal in number of listings this year, while the total value still has some room to meet the target.