Partner content in association with

Future bright for SE Asia’s IPO hopefuls despite persistent challenges

Hiren Krishnani, Nasdaq; Ross Warner, Piacente Financial Communications; Jason Tang, Marcum Asia; Timothy Pitrelli, Cooley; Justin McCarthy, Aon

After a turbulent few years marked by market volatility, macroeconomic uncertainties, a funding winter, and poor post-IPO performance even among some of the most anticipated tech companies in Southeast Asia, the prospects for the next wave of IPO hopefuls seem promising.

Overall, Southeast Asia’s IPO market seems stable, despite the ongoing volatility. In 2023, there were 163 IPOs, which raised US$5.8 billion. The number of offerings was similar to 2022, although funds raised were about $1.8 billion less.

However, activity in the first quarter of 2024 looks slower than in the same period the year before. And, IPOs in the new-economy sectors in the region have been fewer than in previous years. For instance, the new issuers that raised the most capital in Indonesia, which was the region’s hottest IPO market last year, were energy and mineral companies.

Regardless, mature startups in Southeast Asia have been looking to make their market debuts on both regional and global exchanges once the macro environment stabilises. But the road to listing is not without its challenges. Is a public market listing suitable for all companies? Following this period of market discipline, what are the other issues, particularly in an overseas listing, that founders need to consider?

As part of a sponsored bespoke event, DealStreetAsia spoke to a panel of experts for their insights: Timothy Pitrelli, Partner at Cooley with extensive experience in public offerings and cross-border transactions globally, but especially in Asia; Jason Tang, Partner at Marcum Asia who specialises in audit and advisory services for publicly-traded firms in the US; Hiren Krishnani, Investor Relations and IPO Director, Corporate Platforms, at Nasdaq; Ross Warner, executive vice president at Piacente Financial Communications who advises companies through the IPO process; and Justin McCarthy, regional director, Financial Services and Professions Group, Asia, at insurer Aon.

The panellists broadly agreed that IPO activity is set to return, with a strong attraction to listings in the US. With that, however, there are significantly more onerous issues for founders to consider, particularly regulatory compliance and investor communications.

For instance, Marcum’s Tang notes that while the US market could offer numerous advantages over regional bourses, an overseas listing may not be suitable for every company. In particular, Aon’s McCarthy points to litigation scenarios against which companies need to be adequately insured.

Timothy Pitrelli, Partner at Cooley, shared the view that many new economy companies has raised several rounds of capital during the boom years of 2020 and 2021, and may not need to fundraise further and wait until the IPO markets improve.

While waiting for the markets to come back, Ross Warner of Piacente Financial Communications, was of the view that founders use this time to ‘stay on investors’ radar screens, even if (respective companies were) not reporting significant developments’. “Think about this as gaining familiarity with your business model, metrics, and the management team, and building trust. Because when the market does turn, and it will turn, you’re going to need to be able to move fast,” he added.

The panellists were bullish on the road ahead. “A lot of US investors want access to capital in Southeast Asia. Ten years ago, there was no choice – you could not invest in Southeast Asia. [Now] we’ve had Sea Group, Grab, Vinfast;  there are plenty of opportunities for US investors to get access to new generation, new emerging market economies,” said Nasdaq’s Hiren Krishnani.

Cooley’s Pitrelli highlighted that IPO activity in the US had picked up: “I think it’ll take a little bit of time for that to flow out to Asia, but it’s definitely a trend. So I see a lot of the late-stage companies in Southeast Asia preparing, laying the groundwork, getting their audits, hiring counsel and start thinking through some of the initial work with the hope of a window opening up, [perhaps] next year,” he added.

 The following transcript of the discussion has been edited for brevity and clarity.

IPOs in the new economy sectors in Southeast Asia have been slower than before. Why is that so? 

Timothy Pitrelli: Valuations have dropped from the 2021 highs. There are a variety of factors as to why that is: Some of them are macro and some of them are company-specific.

Some of the macro factors that have impacted the New Economy IPO market are higher interest rates and geopolitical tensions, but also, frankly, the aftermarket performance at some of the IPOs that have actually happened. All of that has led to an environment where I think investors are more risk-averse.

The focus has shifted to companies with profitability, as opposed to rewarding growth-at-any-cost business models. Some new economy businesses have struggled post-pandemic — once economies opened up and people returned to more in-person, normal activities.

The final thing I would note is actually more of a positive factor. Many new economy companies have been able to raise money in the private markets and raised a lot during the boom years of 2020 and 2021. So they may not need to fundraise and have the benefit of being able to wait until the IPO markets improve.

Are you anticipating a resurgence in tech IPOs?

Timothy Pitrelli: The good thing is many of these companies haven’t gone away. There haven’t been many sell-side deals, so the companies that still intend to go public have spent the last two years cutting costs, focusing on financial discipline, and making their businesses healthier. So when they do go public, there’ll be a better company for it. So I am expecting a wave of companies from this region to go public when the market improves.

Technically, a company can go public at any time that it chooses. At what stage of a company’s growth should its founders or board consider listing as its next phase?

Jason Tang: Going from a private to a public company has many advantages and disadvantages. It may not be the right decision for every company.

Many make decisions on going public based on various factors. Some companies may wait until there is predictability, consistent revenue, or some may wait until the business is mature enough or there’s corporate governance in place. Some may choose to go public because they need extra cash to support their growth.

So when it comes to making a decision to go public, I typically encourage the management to ask questions, such as does this IPO support your long-term goals, or liquidity needs, or are there any other sources of capital available to support your current stage of development? Or do you have an experienced professional team in place? Or are you willing to disclose your operations and strategy to the public?

For overseas listings there are other factors to consider, such as the cost, and compliance with local laws and regulations. It’s very important that the decision-maker thoroughly understands what it takes to be a public company and also selects the right team to help with the process in order to avoid potential hiccups.

How relevant, or helpful, would a US listing be for tech startups in Southeast Asia? 

Jason Tang: There are a growing number of companies in Southeast Asia, including tech companies, seeking a US listing. The US capital market has many advantages that may not be available domestically, such as a deep pool of liquidity with an active institutional and retail shareholder base.

Most importantly, there’s the flexibility to complete multiple follow-up equity and debt [raisings] to support the company’s growth. There are other factors such as having a platform to complete future overseas acquisitions and a higher global profile.

But that’s not to say that an overseas listing is right for every company. So it’s important that companies make decisions based on their specific needs, to choose the right market when it comes to a public listing.

Jason Tang, Partner, Marcum Asia

We have about 50 unicorns and about 100 soonicorns. Would you say that Southeast Asia has a substantial pool of IPO-ready companies?

Hiren Krishnani: We believe the entire Southeast Asia market is ripe for IPO activity. The pipeline is increasing from a handful of companies three years ago, to a few dozen today, via traditional IPOs or business combinations [SPACs]. It’s across all sectors in Southeast Asia.

A lot of US investors want access to capital in Southeast Asia. Ten years ago, there was no choice — you could not invest in Southeast Asia. [Now] we’ve had Sea Group, Grab, Vinfast;  there are plenty of opportunities for US investors to get access to new generation, new emerging market economies.

Nasdaq has been very successful in the APAC market in general. We’ve had about an 86% win rate in 2024 and about 12 deals. It’s a small number at the moment, but we see the pipeline as very strong. There are about 117 F-1 filings in APAC alone. The majority of them are in China, but there are plenty of deals in Southeast Asia as well. In 2023, we had a 94% win rate in APAC in general.

The interesting fact is over the last few years, we’ve seen an uptick in international IPOs on NASDAQ, from APAC. So for example, we had 15 IPOs in 2017 and 50 IPOs last year — three times more.

When we do see the next wave of tech IPO listings in the region rebound. Are there parallels we can draw to the 3x growth in tech IPOs that we observed in the US after the dot-com bubble?

Hiren Krishnani: This period is very different in that sense, and Wall Street is very scattered with forecasts across a range of outcomes on where monetary policy is headed. Most economists expect the Federal Reserve to cut rates sometime later this year, but the truth is, nobody knows. The fact remains that we are in a higher interest rate environment, where companies or issuers that are looking to IPO or are ready to, are unable to project the cost of capital in the next few years, and that is a challenge, especially for the high-growth issuers.

What we have seen in the market is private company valuations have come down. They have accepted the reality that money is no longer free. With heightened investor scrutiny, and a closer look at valuations, we see that seasoned, scaled, profitable companies or closer to profitable companies will be the first ones to go out and test the market.

We expect investor scrutiny on EBITDA, gross margins to remain very high. We also see that more scaled companies, with revenue north of $300 million, with far stronger EBITDA, and stronger balance sheets, will be the first ones to probably test it out.

We also anticipate that companies that are private equity-backed will be the first ones to test the market, with stronger balance sheets, lower growth and higher chances of profitability

The money raised in 2021 has started to [be drawn down]. That will push companies to raise capital through an IPO. That’s also a pressure for these issuers.

Potential investors need time to truly familiarise themselves with the business models and corporate governance that these companies have. Do you think companies in Southeast Asia that have already expressed their intention to list, but have been holding back for the reasons that we’ve spoken about, are sufficiently engaging investors?

Ross Warner: Obviously, it’s company-specific, but I think across the board, I can safely say the answer is no. If you’re a corporate here, whatever you’re doing, you can probably and should be doing more of it. We’ve noticed a tendency among Asia-based companies – when the market is low, and there’s nothing specific, or significant for them to report – they tend to lay low. And that’s the wrong attitude to have about this.

During the pre-IPO period, you need to stay on investors’ radar screens, even if you’re not reporting significant developments. Think about this as gaining familiarity with your business model, metrics, and the management team, and building trust. Because when the market does turn, and it will turn, you’re going to need to be able to move fast. It’s not a question of when the market turns that you go to the investor base and say ‘Hi, do you remember me?’  View this time now as gaining important feedback, because you may think you know what investors think about you, but that may not be the case, because things change all the time. So use this as an important time for gaining feedback.

Don’t underestimate the power of your outbound communication strategy during your pre-IPO period. A coordinated strategy that is aligned and reinforces the messages that you want about your company could go a long way towards reinforcing and building the investment community’s understanding and familiarity with your company.

How important is it for the company to position itself in investors’ minds in terms of showcasing the right metrics? 

Ross Warner: This is deceivingly easy in the minds of most investors, and to get in the big bucket is not so difficult, and your bankers are going to help you with that. But getting into the smaller details is surprising to many corporates.

In the pre-IPO phase, you’ve got so many metrics that you want to convey to the investment community, and you think all of them are important. But what we’ve seen is that many corporates who are in the pre-IPO phase have too many metrics, and investors get blurry on what is really important, and perhaps they’re going to focus on something that you don’t want them to focus on.

We encourage corporates in the pre-IPO period to really hone in on the metrics you want to define your company. Think about looking at a list of metrics on a page and thinking, do these metrics connect and tell the story that I want to have investors focus on?

Ross Warner, Executive Vice President, Piacente Financial Communications

In getting IPO-ready, to what extent are Southeast Asian tech startups really aware of the obligations and risks related to when a company moves from being private to publicly held?

Justin McCarthy: In Asia, the litigation environment is relatively benign. And entrepreneurs, running businesses, like taking risks. But I think if you’re listing in the US, you face the wrong types of risk – much more active regulators, you have shareholders who are much more aware of their rights.

There are [about] 450, 000 law firms and 1.3 million lawyers in the US, and unfortunately, some of those are focused on class actions and supporting shareholders and pursuing those against companies. That’s underpinned by the legislation there. So there’s the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Those acts are there to protect investors against alleged misstatements and fraud within the securities markets.

There’s a company called Cornerstone Research that publishes data on class actions. There were some 83 class actions last year, which were settled, and that came to $3.9 billion in settlements. The average settlement was $47 million, and the median settlement was $15 million.

To put that in context: About 50% of those sorts of claims are probably going to be kicked out of a court, so it won’t come to that. But it does just show the potential size of litigation against companies and the need to be really prepared. Being prepared will help avoid those issues, and if they do, I would want to make sure that their insurance programs are in place to protect them.

ESG compliance and standards have been a focus in investment decisions, but we’ve not really seen that level of focus on ESG for companies in Southeast Asia, even as it has become an issue of risk. How do you see this from a risk assessment perspective?

 Justin McCarthy: The focus will still be more on the financials of the company, but insurers will be looking to see how companies assess their ESG risks and how they communicate to stakeholders. And they’re doing that more, seeing that there’s proper management, and it reflects well on them, but at the moment, it’s not really a key risk. There are certain insurers that will give you a break on your premium because you’ve got good ESG records, but that’s still something that’s developing.

What are the trade-offs or differences between going public through a SPAC, or a traditional IPO?

Timothy Pitrelli: Whatever IPO structure you choose, you just need to make sure it achieves your goal.

Some companies or founders and shareholders believe that a de-SPAC is a quicker, easier way to go public, and at a commercially agreed valuation. I can talk for a long time about how the reality of the current de-SPAC market does not reflect the reality of that misconception. Oftentimes, it takes longer, it’s more expensive, and there are a variety of drawbacks, but it could fit your objectives in terms of going public, so it’s worth considering.

There are three key drawbacks that come to mind about doing a de-SPAC, as opposed to a traditional IPO.

The first key drawback of a de-SPAC relative to a traditional IPO is the lack of certainty of funds and the dilutive impact the SPAC could have. If your goal is to raise funds, then you actually don’t know how much of the SPAC trust will actually end up redeeming, and redemption rates have been extremely high, in some cases, 90-plus percent.

So if you’re doing a SPAC IPO and looking at what’s in trust, just know that it is possible that money may disappear. Also, in this market, it’s become a lot harder to do PIPEs (private investment in public equity), or other third-party financings, at reasonable terms. Some of these structures have been very onerous, and highly diluted.

The second key drawback is you won’t have underwriters. You’re saving the cost of not having underwriters, but there are certain services that underwriters provide that are very helpful to companies in a traditional IPO. [These include] roadshows and testing of the waters where you’re engaged in broad-based, investor education about your business, and creating an understanding of your business in your future investor pool, but who may also do secondary trading in the market. [Also] bookbuilding and price discovery – which gives you some control over which investors you allocate to in an IPO; and stabilisation activities after listing, that in a traditional IPO, stabilisation helps avoid volatility in the stock price in the weeks post-listing.

The final drawback is you have to then overcome a perception in the market that has developed, that de-SPAC companies are companies that were not ready to become public through a traditional IPO, where there are underwriters conducting due diligence and advisors delivering the usual opinions. That’s not insurmountable; you can [overcome that] through good reporting and good governance after listing. But unfortunately, I think there has been that perception that has developed in the market for some de-SPAC companies.

For a listing in the US, preparing US GAAP or IFRS financials, and PCAOB-complaint audits can often be among the steepest challenges that companies in Southeast Asia. How do you drive the messaging to potential clients? 

Jason Tang: The quality and experience of the professional team that is selected are very important because an experienced financial consulting team and auditors can help you make the right decisions in navigating through the process, including whether you choose US GAAP or IFRS for financial statements, or to prepare technical memos in the areas of income tax or accounting issues; or to execute an efficient audit plan, or [put out] accurate disclosures.

It’s vital for the company to choose a professional team with a proven track record and deep knowledge of PCAOB, and SEC rules and regulations. You need experienced auditors to help you make sure there is no accounting issue that is subject to scrutiny.

What are the key geographies or industries in Southeast Asia where companies may favour a US listing over a domestic one, and why?

Hiren Krishnani: Most companies belong and believe in the local market; they should believe in the local market. But each year, each country will have companies that may choose to look outside. And when they do, we think Nasdaq is the best place they can choose because of the life sciences solutions, investor relations, ESG and corporate governance.

For the world’s most dynamic and fast-growing companies, US markets remain the undisputed home for listing and trading shares. We’ve seen an uptick in those international companies looking at exploring a listing on exchanges in the US, either a primary [listing] or switching to a US primary listing from this region.

This is for various reasons, [but] primarily driven by the valuation gap, and also the liquidity gap with their US-listed shares. If a company in this region is looking at their peers, they feel that they may miss out on [with a valuation gap], and that will be a big disadvantage. An interesting fact also is that companies in the US who’ve chosen the US exchange, have had four times more capital raised than the ones that chose a [listing in] Europe.

Hiren Krishnani, Investor Relations and IPO Director, Corporate Platforms, Nasdaq

If we were to look at things from an investor’s perspective, to what extent do US investors see the value of portfolio diversification that Southeast Asia and India provide, perhaps as a counterweight to China?

Hiren Krishnani: For international companies looking to gain access to US investors, NASDAQ has the single deepest securities capital market in the world, and it’s supported by highly sophisticated institutional investors. We’re also recognized by local companies and investors alike as a gold standard at home with the world’s most innovative, growth-oriented companies across all sectors.

Companies which choose to list on NASDAQ also get access to indexes like NASDAQ-100 or the Nasdaq Next Generation-100, or even the biotech index. There are plenty of opportunities for companies. And we offer companies lifecycle solutions such as ESG, investor relations, and corporate governance, but also our tremendous corporate branding, thought leadership, networking events, curated events on our markets side, and also the NASDAQ Center for Board Excellence.

So would one way of drawing more Southeast Asian companies to list in the US be through dual-listings?

Hiren Krishnani: Not many people know that we work very closely with the local stock exchanges. We run the technology for stock exchanges globally, including SGX and all of the ASEAN exchanges. All of the settlement matching engine is done by Nasdaq. We have a dual-listing partnership with SGX, we have a data partnership; we run the IR, the governance. We work very closely with all of the local stock exchanges, and it’s to the benefit of issuers, to give them that flexibility, if they want to consider a dual listing, that exchanges are working together to support that.

What are some of the investor relations (IR) best practices that companies should look to implement as they get IPO-ready?

Ross Warner: It doesn’t matter the size of your IPO – going from a private to a public company is hard, and there are a lot of things for management to get their minds wrapped around. But one of the biggest things, in terms of communication is, if you’re a private company, start communicating like a listed company, before you become a listed company.

Recognise that as a private company, you have a lot of leeway in what you say in your outbound communications to the market. Once you become a listed company, that all changes. You’re under the microscope of the media, regulators, and investors. So be very, very aware that what you did before, that made you successful in communication, you might not be able to do now as a listed company.

Now, one of the ways to put that through to the rank and file for the companies is through training in the pre-IPO phase. One of those is working with IR, PR, and marketing firms and understanding pre-IPO disclosure regulations around communications, publicity and marketing. One of the highest risk times for outbound communication that a company will have is in the pre-IPO phase.

We then move on to helping marketing and PR departments understand what it means to be a listed company and under fair disclosure regulations – what you can say and what you can’t say. Getting all of this in place ahead of time reduces the risk of any blow-ups once you are listed.

As companies plan a listing, how important is it for them to evaluate their insurance programmes well, and consider whether they’re adequately protected against the risks that come with being a public company?

Justin McCarthy: I think the risk of being sued as a public company is much greater. So you need to really reassess what you have. What you might have here in Asia will be fairly cheap. When you move to the US [it won’t be]. A couple of years ago [companies] were paying $4 million in premiums, $10 million in insurance cover. It’s come down since then, but it’s still much more expensive. And the type of insurers who are built to provide that coverage may be different to the one you have here in Asia.

[Companies] should look at cyber insurance as well. There was a report out of the FBI in November last year saying that ransomware attacks are focusing on significant financial events [such as] IPOs, and M&A deals. These ransomware attackers are focusing on companies prior to this and [threatening] to expose sensitive information ahead of the events unless a ransom is paid. So make sure you have insurance in place to address that.

If you have a ransomware attack, on average for a public company in the US, the share price drops by 20%. It recovers pretty quickly. But as ransomware becomes more sophisticated, the length of time that interruption is on for is increasing as well. So if you’ve got disgruntled shareholders who look to hold the board accountable for that, then [ensure] you have cyber insurance in place to manage that, which can help reduce that risk.

Justin McCarthy, Regional Director, Financial Services & Professions Group, Asia, Aon

An IPO can be an ideal outcome for many companies. But in truth, only a handful of companies get there. Is a trade sale or merger perhaps the best option for some of the more successful tech startups here?

Timothy Pitrelli: An M&A sale provides a complete exit for your shareholders at an agreed M&A valuation, but you remain a private company. You can avoid the reporting and compliance burden and costs of being a public company. But you don’t have access to public markets to fundraise and invest in the future growth of your business. You may not care about that, because the buyer may be well-capitalised or themselves have access to financing that they’re willing to invest in the target.

An IPO gives a partial exit to your shareholders. Most IPOs are primary only, and pre-IPO shareholders are locked down for six months, which means they can only sell down, not all usually, but a portion after the IPO. But an IPO could help your brand and profile. It allows you to access the public markets for future financings to invest in the business. On the flip side, you’re a public company, and subject to reporting and compliance obligations.

It really depends on what you’re looking to achieve and what will be the best outcome for your business and your shareholders.

There is a third option: Running a dual-track process. We’ve done this for companies based in Asia – and that is running an IPO and a sell-side M&A process in parallel. You can get some price indication from both the IPO investors and the potential M&A buyers, and later in the process before you flip public on your IPO, you can decide which path you’re going to choose. If done correctly, that allows you to maximise the certainty of your transaction because even if IPO markets are soft, you could pivot to the M&A. It also allows you to achieve, maybe, the best price because you can choose which track is giving you the best valuation. Obviously, the downside is it’s running two deals at once – with higher costs and time commitment from the company it requires a lot of resources to do correctly.

Timothy Pitrelli, Partner, Cooley

We’re seeing some companies whose roots are in China position themselves as Singapore companies, even as a big part of their talent remains on the mainland. Do you see many of these Chinese-founded but technically Singapore companies using the city-state as a base to go public? 

Jason Tang: Due to the growing geopolitical tension between the US and China in recent years, and also the growing trend of Chinese tech giants venturing outside China, we will see the unicorns move their headquarters to Singapore, and may potentially use Singapore as their base for future listings. I believe this trend will continue especially due to Singapore’s friendly business environment, tax advantages, and cultural similarity for Chinese companies.

Can Southeast Asia tech companies listing in the US take the place of Chinese companies?

Hiren Krishnani: We’ve had a substantial increase in Chinese listings over the past many years. On average, we get about 30 to 35 listings each year from China, so that’s a significant market for us. About 20% of listings on NASDAQ are international companies. What happened last year was a bit of uncertainty about the general procedure of doing IPOs for Chinese companies, and there was a bit of a slowdown that happened. But I think there’s a lot more clarity now about what companies need to do, though the process is much longer.

But we do see a trend where a lot of Chinese companies set up their base in Singapore though their business is primarily China-driven, but they’re looking to tackle the Southeast Asian market.

With increasing investor attention on ESG practices and compliance, how should smaller companies preparing for a listing address them, given that it can be quite an onerous process? And how much weight should they put on it as part of their IPO story? Or is it only the larger companies that can afford to tell their story?

Ross Warner: In the past, we didn’t see a lot of interest from investors coming to Asia asking about ESG. Or if we did, it was very light, and it only focused on the ‘G’ [governance]. But about 18 months ago, that all changed. We saw a huge increase in interest among investors asking about ESG, and even asking to meet with sustainability committees.

For a smaller company, we see this as a golden opportunity to stand out in the IPO process. It’s a way to differentiate yourself and to elevate management in the eyes of investors that you are thinking about the operations of your company as a whole. So this would be something that we would strongly consider that corporates weave into their IPO strategy, in their communication, to really stand up and to elevate because right now, not many small companies are [doing so].

What are your projections for the coming year ahead, in terms of your respective sectors?

Hiren Krishnani:  So we’ve recently launched the IPO Pulse Index at NASDAQ which indicates there is an uptick in the IPOs that are going to come this year.

[Market data and investor sentiment] suggests that the IPO environment is positive and should remain steady in 2024. We had a bit of an uptick in Q1 when we saw about 40 IPOs in the US. And we certainly see bigger IPOs coming.

What we need to see is IPOs doing well. Nobody wants to be the first one to go out; they want to follow others and we need to see the performance of those IPOs, and that’s when the market will really open up. What I can share publicly is there are 90 filings with NASDAQ at the moment, and that’s probably the highest we’ve ever had.

Ross Warner: What’s changing for IR professionals in the market right now is the advent of artificial intelligence (AI). This has tremendous potential to revolutionise our industry. But particularly for IR financial communications, it’s a particularly risky tool to use.

We know that approximately 80% of IR officers in companies are experimenting with generative texts in AI, but yet only 5% or less than 5% of the companies have usage policy on this. This is tremendously risky, because there are closed AI systems and open AI systems, and not many companies have a closed system. So that means that most IR officers are using an open system, which means that potentially sensitive data is being put out there.

So if you’re a corporate, what we would suggest you do is educate, educate, educate. Make first and foremost the use case scenarios that you will allow for IR to use with AI, and also the tools for AI that you would use; the potential unleashed for data synthesis, in particular for streamlining workflows, is going to be tremendous.

Jason Tang: I see many companies in Southeast Asia [looking to list in the US].

Companies just need to be prepared; it is important they can articulate clearly their unit economics and their strategy to drive expansion and to communicate their vision of the future that is compatible with credible evidence, such as a strategy with clear milestones and also whether an IPO [helps] to enter a new market. It’s also important for the management to have experienced and quality independent professionals to be able to help with that. With those in place, then I think there’s a definitely sizable pipeline of IPO-ready companies.

Timothy Pitrelli: IPO activity in the US has picked up, including in new economy companies. I think it’ll take a little bit of time for that to flow out to Asia, but it’s definitely a trend. So I see a lot of the late-stage companies in Southeast Asia preparing, laying the groundwork, getting their audits, hiring counsel and start thinking through some of the initial work with the hope of a window opening up, [perhaps] next year. But it takes six to eight months, maybe even longer, to actually do an IPO. So if you want to be ready to do one, sometime in the middle of next year, you’re going to need to be thinking about starting that process in the second half of this year, in order to be ready for when that window comes.