Global IPOs Have Best Start to Year on Record

Global listings activity has been the highest on record so far this year, with firms raising a total of $24 billion from initial public offerings (IPOs), according to Thomson Reuters data on Friday.

Asia, which dominated equity capital markets in 2010, continued to lead the field, with China accounting for 41% of issuance, including wind turbine maker Sinovel Wind's $1.4 billion listing last month.

Boosted by strong energy and commodity prices, energy and power has been the most active sector, making up 30% of fundraising, followed by industrials on 16%.

U.S. pipeline company Kinder Morgan raised around $2.86 billion earlier this month in the largest U.S. energy-related IPO since 1998, upping the size and price of its offering after strong demand.

Fundraising activity has been buoyed by relatively strong stock markets, with world equities, measured by the MSCI All-Country World Index, hitting 2-1/2 year highs this month despite unrest in North Africa.

The $24.3 billion raised globally since the start of January is a 20% increase on the same period last year, the data showed. Secondary offerings have also seen a boost, up 23% year-on-year to raise $67.7 billion globally.

With several big listings -- including a $3.7 billion offering from U.S. hospital operator HCA Holdings and a $2.4 billion IPO by Denmark's ISS -- currently in the works, and a huge pipeline of deals still to launch, the market shows no signs of slowing.

In particular, Europe is braced for a flurry of stock market listings in the next two months as firms use annual results as launching pads for share sales and hope to complete deals before investors disappear for the Easter break.