Initial public offerings in the port industry: exploring the determinants of underpricing
Maritime Policy & Management, 2017, vol. 44, issue 8, 1012-1033
The capital-intensive nature of the port industry and the long payback period of port investments traditionally determine high financial needs for operating the business. Due to the growing financial requirements for developing greenfield mega-projects and feeding international terminal operators’ overseas expansion, equity markets are expected to extend their role in promoting the industry. In this perspective, the underpricing phenomenon, which represents a direct cost for the issuer during initial public offering (IPO) and discourages companies from going public, is neglected by port literature. The paper explores the antecedents of IPO underpricing in ports. Building upon extant finance and port literature, firm characteristics, transaction features, and country-specific variables are tested as determinants of IPOs’ initial returns. For the aim of this study, 58 port-related IPOs taking place on international stock exchanges are examined, and ordinary least squares regression analysis is performed. The study offers unprecedented understandings of the phenomenon and supports port managers in facing financial challenges. Before launching the IPO, financial executives are invited to carefully identify time-window opportunities, and to monitor underwriters’ reputation when selecting financial partners. Findings bring insights for policymakers, as the public listing of port companies emerges a viable option for implementing port reform.
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