IPOs, Asian Markets And French Equity Funds

2004 will most certainly be the busiest year for IPOs since the heady days of 2000. This year has perhaps also been the most successful for the US companies who floated. According to IPO tracking-firm IPOdesktop.com, the last 100 companies who went public through IPO have seen their shares rise an average of 36% - against a Nasdaq gain of 8% over the same period.

220 companies have already IPO'd on US exchanges this year, raising in excess of $46bn. A further nine IPOs are on the calender for December. And the so-called IPO boom looks set to continue into 2005.

Morgan Stanley has shuffled the pack in Asia, as it bids to take on more leveraged lending and high-yield debt services for clients. And no wonder - Asia has been hot in 2004. Asian equity sales have already hit $65.2bn this year, 20% more than all of 2003. And the smart money is on a further 30% increase next year, led by Chinese companies. Some Chinese banks are thought likely to want to raise up to $5bn each.

The Wall Street firm is also leading the pack in South Korea. Morgan Stanley made $40m there from its broking operations in the six months to September 30th, up 70% on the same period the year before. The firm ranked top in terms of profit on South Korean equities, followed by UBS, Goldman, Merrill and Lehman.

And finally, investors seem to be ploughing into French private-equity funds, which have been posting returns of up to 15% this year and, to date, have been a far better better than traditional equities. The pressure's on, however, and there are now some who feel that it is unreasonable to expect returns to continue at these levels.

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