India's big name market debuts mask thin pipeline

India's big name market debuts mask thin pipeline

Two high-profile market debuts in India this month could raise up to $500 million, the biggest since Bharti Airtel floated its telecom tower arm in 2012, masking a thin pipeline in a market that is struggling to attract high profile listings.

Bankers say volatile global markets and a tepid performance at home are scaring off potential candidates. Worse, few obvious big names remain after a wave of listings in 2010, when Indian markets were riding high.

“September filings are likely to get pushed to February. There are no big tickets in sight,” an investment banker said.

The operator of the popular Cafe Coffee Day chain started receiving orders on Wednesday for its up to Rs 1,150 crore listing. But even for this keenly awaited offer have been lukewarm: just three percent of its book was covered by the early afternoon.

Books will close on Friday, with the listing due on November 2. That is expected to be followed by the launch of an up to $400 million listing from Interglobe, the owner of India’s biggest airline IndiGo, later this month.

Among likely candidates after Cafe Coffee Day and Indigo, bankers point only to drugmaker Alkem Labs and software firm L&T Infotech, both of which could be delayed to next year.

“Apart from L&T Infotech and Alkem, the pipeline doesn’t have something that will rival Interglobe or Coffee Day in size for the remaining year,” said a second Mumbai-based banker.

India’s economy has been more resilient than some of its neighbours, but a slower than expected recovery has still weighed. India’s NSE share index .NSEI is down 11 per cent since its record high in March 4.

“Subdued movement in secondary shares and lack of big new themes are to be blamed for the absence of big IPOs in the pipeline,” said G Chokkalingam, founder of Equinomics, a Mumbai-based research and fund advisory firm.

Indian companies have raised $1 billion so far this year — almost four times what they raised last year, and the biggest IPO volumes since 2012. But it is far from the record $8.5 billion in 2010, when India saw high profile fundraisings including a $3.5 billion listing from Coal India.

Meanwhile, the average size for listings has gone from $132.3 million in 2010 to $19 million last year, with no sector emerging as a key driver. The average was less than $10 million in each of two previous years.

Many are placing their hopes with India’s flourishing tech sector, where companies like online marketplace Flipkart are widely thought to be considering eventual listings. But with funding still plentiful for the largest players, few listings are on the cards for now, at home or abroad.

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