China Tower IPO fails to impress

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A sign of China Tower Corp is seen at the PT Expo China in Beijing, China September 20, 2016. REUTERS/Stringer

HONG KONG (Reuters) – China Tower Corp Ltd’s (0788.HK) shares closed flat on their debut in Hong Kong yesterday, with escalating Sino-US trade tensions dragging on investor sentiment toward the world’s biggest initial public offering (IPO) in two years.

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Coming after a string of weak IPO debuts in Hong Kong, China Tower’s performance could influence upcoming listings such as Sinochem Energy. It may also weigh on the city’s attempts to sustain its record fundraising from stock floats.

Shares of China Tower, the world’s largest mobile telecommunications tower operator, edged only as high as HK$1.29 before ending unchanged from their IPO price at HK$1.26. The Hang Seng Index .HSI closed up 0.4 percent.

Analysts said China Tower holding at or above its issue price would engender some confidence in the wider market.

“Long term institutions will park their funds in firms like China Tower – its the sort of stock you wouldn’t expect to see any explosive jump in and it won’t attract much retail speculative interest,” said Linus Yip, chief strategist of First Shanghai Securities.

China Tower priced its IPO last week at the bottom of an indicative range, raising $6.9 billion in the world’s biggest listing since Postal Savings Bank of China Co Ltd’s (1658.HK) $7.63 billion Hong Kong float in 2016.

The company operates 1.9 million tower sites and had 2.8 million tenants at the end of June, its IPO prospectus showed. It was formed in 2014 from the tower operations of China’s three state-backed telecoms providers – China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom – to reduce duplication.

China Tower Chairman Tong Jilu, speaking at the open of trading in Hong Kong, said the fact that the company could go public after just three years of operation showed its quality was recognised by investors.

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