|From left, headquarters of NH Investment & Securities, Korea Investment & Securities and Mirae Asset Daewoo / Courtesy of each company|
By Anna J. Park
As initial public offerings (IPOs) are back in full swing starting in the second half of this year, three major securities firms are competing fiercely to take the top underwriter position in this year's planned IPOs.
So far, NH Investment & Securities is expected to be the top player in the market this year, as it successfully led three public listings in the first week of this month. On July 1, Micromill Embrain was newly listed on the tech-heavy KOSDAQ market, followed by SK Biopharmaceuticals' listing on the benchmark KOSPI market on July 2. Withus Pharm's listing on the KOSDAQ followed in the next day.
The three firms all saw their offering prices soar amid the stock market's recent bullish move, with record-breaking subscription competition rates and trillions of won of deposits.
The securities firm is also scheduled to lead IPO processes of various companies, including a major IPO watch of this year ― Big Hit Entertainment, the managing company of K-pop group BTS. The entertainment company's market cap is expected to reach 3 trillion won, with NH and Korea Investment & Securities jointly handling the IPO process as underwriters.
Other IPOs the firm leads include electronics supplier WiPAM and secondary battery-processing firm A-PRO. A+ Asset, an insurance general agency (GA), is also aiming to be listed in the KOSPI market with NH Investment.
The firm has also been selected as main underwriter of the IPO of Kakao Page, a mobile content platform owned by Kakao, together with KB Securities.
An official from NH Investment & Securities said the securities company has long been a power player in the IPO underwriting market.
"In the IPO market, proven track records and past performances are important; the firm's accumulated know-how and expertise in investment banking are widely acknowledged," the official said, adding that the company has strengthened its investment banking department since 2005, when other firms were more focused on brokerages or other financial products.
Close chase by Mirae Asset Daewoo and Korea Investment
Mirae Asset Daewoo and Korea Investment & Securities are also competing to become the top performer in the IPO market this year.
Mirae Asset Daewoo is currently working on IPO processes for 14 companies, which have either already received the green light from the bourse operator Korea Exchange (KRX) or are waiting for approval. P&K Skin Research Center, YoungLimWon Soft Lab and QuantaMatrix are some of tho,se to-be-listed firms.
Korea Investment & Securities is handling nine companies' IPO processes, including Big Hit Entertainment ― jointly with NH Investment ― and The Nature Holdings, SaltLux and ADENA SOFTWARE.
The firm will also jointly lead the IPO process for Kakao Games, another affiliate of mobile giant Kakao, along with Samsung Securities.
IPO market galvanized in second half
Public listings have been irregular events during the first six months of this year due to market turbulence and uncertainties over the continued spread of COVID-19. Many firms have had to cancel their IPO plans during the period.
According to the Korea Exchange (KRX), only 12 companies were newly listed during the first half of this year, a 50 percent drop from last year's 18 companies listed during the same period. The volume of total offering prices was also reduced to 365 billion, which was a 66 percent drop from the same period last year.
While it is still unknown who will be the final winner in the IPO underwriter market this year, it is certain that potential IPOs will be much galvanized during the second half of this year, as much liquidity flows into the stock markets, said analysts.