June 17th, 2011
07:28 AM GMT
Hong Kong, China (CNN) – “You can’t pick your day.” That’s what Samsonite CEO Tim Parker told me in our Thursday live interview on World Business Today. Earlier that morning, the luggage maker had debuted with fanfare and champagne on the Hong Kong stock exchange. But the fizz had faded within the first hour of trade – share price had already tanked by nearly 11%. By the time Parker and I had our face-to-face, the Hang Seng had closed and Samsonite stock was still underwater – more than 7.5% off its initial IPO price of HK$14.50. Still, the CEO seemed upbeat.
“I wouldn’t say it’s stumbling. The market stumbled, we just stumbled a little less than the markets so to end up where we have done, to be honest, I feel is not a bad result considering very, very turbulent conditions.”
To be sure, those conditions are many. On Monday, Standard & Poor’s downgraded Greece’s credit rating to the worst in the world. On Tuesday, Asia’s first and third largest economies announced higher May inflation numbers – China’s 5.5% was its highest rate since July 2008. India’s May inflation sped in higher than expected at 9.06%. On Wednesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average had plunged by 200 points in intraday trading, posting losses for six weeks in a row.
So with all this recent doom and gloom, isn’t it smarter to postpone high-end IPOs while world financials are bottoming out? Not the case for Samsonite standard-bearer Tim Parker.
“Never had any doubts – always felt this was the right place to come, this was the right time to do it, there’s never a perfect time.”
But there’s always a better time or a better strategy. And risk aversion seems to be the plan for Hong Kong’s next high-end IPO. Prada premieres on the Hang Seng next Friday, June 24. Today the Italian fashion house showed its skittishness by pricing its initial public offering at HK$34.50 – the bottom of its latest indicative price range. This means Prada rose about $2.1 billion – about half a billion dollars less than it hoped – as it steels itself for lower investor interest.
Are luxury brand offerings losing their luster in Hong Kong? It’s fair to say that as world markets go, so go IPOs. Investors may have to be ready for a mid- to long-term ride to see returns.
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