DealZone

U.S. still a draw for foreign IPOs

April 7, 2009

nasdaq11Stock exchanges in emerging markets have grown more sophisticated in recent years, giving Nasdaq and the New York Stock Exchange a run for their money in attracting new overseas IPO listings.

Yet last week, Chinese video games maker Changyou.com, made a spectacular debut on the Nasdaq, and on Monday, Israeli tech company N-trig, which makes pen and touch devices for notebook computers, said it was planning a Nasdaq listing in 2010.

But why would Changyou.com, for example, with virtually no sales to speak of in the U.S., list there, rather than on a Chinese exchange?

Changyou chairman Charles Zhang told Reuters last week: “The U.S. is still the most sophisticated market, especially for technology investors.” And the new rules recently announced to make China’s exchange attractive will take a few years to really draw IPOs, he said. What’s more, the liquidity in the U.S. stock markets is deeper than anywhere else.

And companies, foreign and domestic, want to list on the exchanges where their peers are listed. Changyou’s parent, Sohu.com, has been on Nasdaq since 2000, and competitors Giant Interactive Group, Shanda Interactive Group and NetEase.com are all U.S.-listed, so it would have made little sense to list elsewhere.

Fears about Sarbanes-Oxley, the corporate governance law many called onerous and said would drive IPOs away from U.S. exchanges, have also subsided, NYSE’s head of listings Scott Cutler said recently. In this scandal-ridden environment, maybe more oversight is turning out to be another selling point.

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