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Strong IPO outlook worldwide

Media Release
31 March 2006

Strong IPO outlook worldwide as 29 countries surpass $1 billion mark, says Ernst & Young

Exchanges increasingly specialise to meet diverse issuer needs

Auckland, 31 MARCH 2006 –No fewer than 29 countries – including Brazil, Egypt, Greece, India, Israel, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Poland, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and the UAE – each hosted more than $1 billion worth of IPOs last year, marking a globalization trend set to continue through 2006, according to Accelerating Growth, the third annual Global IPO Report released today by leading professional services provider Ernst & Young.

With 169 IPO deals completed, Australia was second only to the U.S. in numbers of transactions in 2005 and fourth in terms of proceeds. The Report says Australia is poised to forge ahead again in 2006, with bankers anticipating more IPOs from property funds, energy and utility companies. Australian activity rates are fueled by a record-breaking stock market, low interest rates, and billions in cash waiting on the sidelines.

This trend also extends to New Zealand, says Tim Howe, a partner at Ernst & Young New Zealand, “There appears to be a high level of investment capital available to businesses right across the size spectrum.” Mr Howe says the outlook for 2006 in the region remains positive, as long as the economy remains strong.

Globally IPO activity continues to reflect the shifting landscape of the world economy with a significant increase in the emerging markets. While a key trend in 2005 was an increase in IPOs in China, Israel, Russia, and Poland, the outlook for 2006 shows an increased interest in markets including the Middle East, South Korea, India and Brazil.

“For many large investors, a global strategy that does not include China, India, and Russia has become a contradiction in terms,” Gregory K. Ericksen, Global Vice Chair of Strategic Growth Markets at Ernst & Young, said.

“However, the landscape is continuing to widen and we now see a healthy pipeline of IPO candidates waiting in the wings in markets around the world. A wide global spread of IPO activity, a mix of types of offering – both privatizations and new ventures, energetic growth in emerging markets, and vigorous competition for new business by the world’s stock exchanges all bode well for the IPO supply in 2006.”

The report, combining data from Ernst &Young and Thomson Financial with the views of representatives from stock exchanges and banks around the world, reveals that issuers have increasingly diverse strategies and needs, and stock exchanges are specializing to differentiate themselves and meet them.

“Part of the rich IPO environment is diverse stock market and regulatory regimes, with the established highly regulated markets of the US, Western Europe, and Japan at one extreme and infant exchanges in some emerging markets at the other,” Ericksen said. “Today’s IPO model has developed a number of variants – there is no longer just one game to play. Several factors are playing a part here, all consistent with the increasing sophistication and maturity of investors and capital markets generally.”

Highlights of the survey include:

- 2005 was a watershed year for IPO activity in the Middle East and Africa: soaring liquidity from oil revenues contributed to many big ticket IPOs raising more than $500 million each in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Oman, Lebanon and Egypt. The UAE alone saw issues worth $1.9 billion compared to just $0.5 billion in 2004.

- In the next few years, assuming the necessary political stability, the Middle East is likely to become an important source of IPO activity as oil revenues are recycled into the local economy.

- Asia continues to be a hotbed of activity. Towed along by mainland China and Hong Kong’s continuing strength, other economies in the area displayed vigorous IPO activity, notably Malaysia, Taiwan, South Korea, and India.

- One of the three biggest deals to date this year was Lotte, the South Korean Department Store, which raised $3.5 billion when it dual-listed in London and Seoul.

- India has evoked lively investor interest and will continue to do so. While the amounts raised fell from $2.9 billion to $2.3 billion in 2005, reflecting fewer privatizations, numbers of transactions surged from 21 to 53.

- Many Indian IPOs have been oversubscribed 20 to 30 times in markets that have been scaling record levels. Following Jet Airways’ successful launch —one of the most successful Indian IPOs of recent times — a number of state-run airlines are poised to float in the near future.

- In Latin America, Brazil saw an increase in both the amount of capital raised – up 48% to $1.8 billion, and the number of transactions – up 20% on the previous year. Brazilian companies currently account for one-third of all Latin American listings on the New York Stock Exchange.

ENDS

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