Hong Kong, the world’s largest market for initial public offerings six times over the past decade, might still reclaim its crown from the Nasdaq in New York this year, analysts said. Flotations in the city declined by 63 per cent during the third quarter amid protests that are in their fourth month now. But analysts feel the worst is over, and mega listings to come in the next few months might allow the Hong Kong stock exchange to catch up in the coming quarter, and reclaim its crown as the world’s largest IPO market. “We have seen a very quiet summer, as many companies have held back IPOs. They want to wait for better valuations, when market sentiment improves,” said Kenny Ng Lai-yin, securities strategist at Everbright Sun Hung Kai. “We believe the worst is over, as market sentiment has improved since September. Many companies will launch their IPOs before the end of December, before their current financial statements expire,” Ng said. “Hong Kong will still have a chance to climb back to the top, as many listing hopefuls are preparing their IPOs for the fourth quarter,” said Gordon Tsui Luen-on, chairman of the Hong Kong Securities Association. “This includes e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding, which many market players expect will raise up to US$15 billion in a secondary listing in Hong Kong,” he added. Alibaba owns the South China Morning Post . Tsui said the US-China trade war had led some in Washington to suggest that American regulators ban Chinese companies from raising funds in the United States. “This will encourage more Chinese companies to list in Hong Kong over the US,” he said. Ivy Wong, the Asia-Pacific chair of multinational law firm Baker McKenzie’s capital markets group, said many deals had been put on hold for pricing reasons. “Issuers are waiting for the right price and the right market conditions to launch their deals. Some of them have planned for a relaunch within the next six months,” she said. According to data provider Refinitiv, the total funds raised through IPOs on the Hong Kong stock exchange’s main board and GEM, which is targeted at small and mid-sized issuers, stood at US$7.13 billion in the July to September period, a decline of 63 per cent from the US$19.43 billion raised during the same period in 2018. The number of IPOs decreased to 22 from 52 a year earlier. The total funds raised also represent a two-year low for the third quarter. IPO activity in the first nine-month period declined as well. Ninety-five listings on the main board and GEM raised US$16.29 billion, a decline of 49 per cent from a year earlier. The city has been rocked by protests – first over a controversial extradition bill and then generally against the Hong Kong government – since June. The Hong Kong stock market reported a 30 per cent year-on-year decline in turnover for the third quarter, while the Hang Seng Index was at one point down by as much as 6.2 per cent. In this climate, companies have held back deals. Only one small IPO was launched in Hong Kong in August, after three listings were cancelled in June and July. Sentiment improved after Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor announced the official withdrawal of the extradition bill on September 4. The Hang Seng has risen by more than 6 per cent in the first two weeks of September, which has brought deals back to the market . Budweiser Brewing Company APAC, the Asia-Pacific unit of Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s largest brewer, raised US$5 billion last week and will list on Monday, September 30 . The IPO will be Hong Kong’s largest and the second-largest globally this year. Budweiser had earlier cancelled a mega US$9.8 billion Hong Kong flotation in July. The company’s renewed and slimmed-down listing has provided a boost to the Hong Kong stock exchange’s main board. The total funds raised by the bourse will now amount to US$16.2 billion for the first nine months this year, or 14.5 per cent of all IPOs globally. According to Refinitiv, Hong Kong was the third-largest IPO market in the first nine months this year. It held the same ranking for the first half , but was the top market last year. Fundraising by companies that are already listed in Hong Kong also declined between January and September 2019, by 61 per cent year on year to US$9.5 billion, also a 10-year low. Total equity market fundraising, including IPOs, rights issues and share placements, reached US$27.7 billion in the first nine months this year, a 52 per cent year-on-year decline. The top two spots among IPO markets globally have also changed, with the Nasdaq ranked no. 1 after Peloton Interactive’s US$1.16 billion IPO last week. The US technology-focused stock market raised US$22.5 billion in the first nine months this year, capturing 20.1 per cent of the market globally. The New York Stock Exchange, which ranked top in the first half, is in second place after raising US$21.8 billion, or 19.4 per cent of the market globally. The NYSE captured ride-hailing giant Uber Technologies’ IPO in May, which raised US$8.1 billion to become the year’s largest IPO worldwide.