Hong Kong Bourse Bangs Virtual Gong on IPO in Time of Virus

(Bloomberg) -- Hong Kong’s stock exchange welcomed its newest stock with a virtual gong-banging ceremony as the Asian financial hub seeks to keep business going amid a partial lock-down that has now lasted for almost two months to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

InnoCare Pharma Ltd., a Chinese biotech firm on Monday, became the first initial public offering to debut via a virtual listing ceremony at Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Ltd., following similar events in both Shanghai and Shenzhen in mainland China. The shares rose 11.2% to HK$9.95 as of 11:30 a.m., even as the benchmark Hang Seng index slid almost 3.3%.

InnoCare, which also moved its presentations to investors online ahead of the IPO, successfully priced a $288 million transaction earlier this month at the top of its range amid one of the worst market routs in more than three decades. Normally a festive affair, a listing usually attracts hundreds of people including executives, bankers and lawyers as well as caterers.

Hong Kong, which has seen a recent spike in coronavirus cases, has restricted travel into the city, forcing most visitors to self-quarantine for 14 days. The virus has infected more than 300,000 people globally and killed almost 15,000, and is set to trigger a steep drop in economic activity across the world.

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The Shanghai Stock Exchange arranged a virtual listing starting Feb. 23, starting off with a company from Hubei, the heart of virus outbreak. Shenzhen Stock Exchange also welcomed its first “cloud listing” on March 6.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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