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Best year for IPOs, NSE can't go public

A record-setting rally in Indian equities helped fuel the unprecedented IPO haul

George Smith Alexander & Ravil Shirodkar | Bloomberg  |  Mumbai 

IPO

The (NSE) hosted many of India's initial public offerings (IPO's) in what's been the best-ever year for new listings. Unfortunately for its shareholders, the itself missed out on the party. The operator of the country's dominant bourse shelved plans to list this year because of an investigation into whether the exchange gave high-frequency traders unfair access to its systems. Former Chief Executive Officer Chitra Ramkrishna quit weeks before it filed an IPO draft prospectus, while millions of dollars of revenue has been temporarily confiscated by the regulator. India more than 160 debuts that raised $12 billion in 2017, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, and it was also the first year in which the country saw four billion-dollar IPOs. Despite accounting for more than 80 per cent of all stock market trading in the country, couldn't list its shares and questions remain over when it will be able to come to market. The “missed the bus,” Chakri Lokapriya, managing director at TCG Asset Management, which has $3 billion of assets, said in an interview. “It’s been a great year for new issues.” A record-setting rally in Indian equities helped fuel the unprecedented IPO haul. First-time share sales raised Rs 76,600 crore, more than double the amount raised in 2016. The largest was from General Insurance Corp, which raised about Rs 11,400 crore in October.

If had listed, the sale would have been the year's second-biggest. The bourse, which filed its IPO papers in December 2016, was looking to raise Rs 10,000 crore, which could have valued the operator at as much as Rs 40,000 crore, people with knowledge of the matter said at the time of the filing. Trying again Best year for IPOs, NSE can't go public The hopes to revisit its IPO next year, provided the regulatory investigation is finished, Chairman Ashok Chawla said in August. “We have already mentioned that the IPO process is incumbent on the resolution of the process with Sebi, and we will duly inform the authority as per the procedures,” a spokesman for the bourse operator said by e-mail Thursday. An auditor's report outlined in NSE’s sale document said that the exchange’s collocation systems, which place brokers' servers next to those of the bourse — gave preferential access to some firms. In January, the Securities and Exchange Board of India said it would focus on fixing any problems found in its probe. In June, the regulator said it would appoint forensic auditors to investigate possible connivance by exchange staff and brokers, and whether any unfair gains were made. Last month, tax authorities searched the premises of some present and former officials as part of the same probe. The exchange’s collocation revenue, totalling Rs 740 crore at the end of September, has been taken from the company and deposited in a separate account after an order from the regulator. While India’s market is expected to stay hot for a while, Satish Betadpur, director of research at the India unit of William O’Neil & Co, said may not be able to list in time to take full advantage. “The IPO market won’t cool next year — at least for the first six months but it doesn’t seem like the NSE’s issues would be sorted by then,” Betadpur said by phone. Bloomberg

First Published: Fri, December 22 2017. 23:57 IST
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