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Nanofilm breaks long barren spell for Singapore IPO

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Absence makes the heart grow fonder as rare deal attracts blue-chip names

Stop all the clocks: Singapore has finally logged a corporate IPO. When Nanofilm Technologies International starts trading this Friday, it will be the first such listing of any consequence in three and a half years.

Singapore Exchange has had a long-standing and worsening problem in its equity markets.

On the primary side, most of the big blue-chip candidates have already listed; the next generation of companies, particularly those on the tech side, either head straight to Nasdaq or don’t bother listing at all because of the widespread availability of private capital.

Real estate investment and other trusts are an exception, but when it comes to actual corporates, they are rarely sighted. And that’s before you get to the challenges with liquidity.

Scarcity value

So, what was different about Nanofilm?

A few things. Firstly, it is a spin-off from Nanyang Technological University, and therefore a homegrown story of some pride (Singapore might not do IPOs any more but it sure does technology universities).

Secondly, the sheer novelty of it – along with its tech credentials (it makes coating materials for smartphones and other gizmos) – attracted some of the region’s biggest investors as cornerstones, among them Temasek, Malaysia’s Employees Provident Fund, Aberdeen Standard Investments (Asia) and Lion Global Investors.

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