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Capital Markets

Equity capital markets: Jumbo IPOs stand up to their worst enemy

With big declines and huge daily swings, stock markets around the world looked even less welcoming to new issuers in March than they had for much of the year, during which time companies fearful of a cold reception had withdrawn or postponed more than $20.5 billion-worth of deals.

The S&P 500 is down about 7.5% year to date, the Dow Jones EuroStoxx 50 17.5% and the Hang Seng 25%.

Despite the extreme market conditions, however, investors rolled out the welcome mat to greet record-breaking deals from Visa, China Railway Construction Company (CRCC) and Société Générale.

In Asia, CRCC’s $5.4 billion IPO attracted more than $68 billion-worth of orders from retail investors alone, surpassing the $57.4 billion record set by Chinese internet portal Alibaba last November. The institutional portion of the book was more than 60 times covered and several investors came in with single orders larger than $1 billion.

Investors are bullish on CRCC’s prospects because of the Chinese government’s ambitious infrastructure investment plans, which include the construction of 55 new railway lines in 14 cities over the next few years.

Payments network operator Visa, which launched its IPO hot on the heels of Bear Stearns’ dramatic demise, broke the record for the largest ever US IPO, raising $17.9 billion and pricing above its initial price range. Visa’s IPO could be close to twice the size of previous record holder AT&T Wireless, which floated in 2000, if the company decides to float its overallotment.

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