Japan to mark record number of company listings in December

This year, as a whole, is set to see the most listings in 15 years in the country

A pedestrian walks past an electronic quotation board displaying the closing share prices of the Tokyo Stock Exchange on Friday in Tokyo. AFP

While Japan’s stock market might have had an unassuming year overall, one sector is running red-hot: new listings.

December is set to see the most companies list in a single month in Japan, with a total of 32 firms due to go public before the end of the year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That would top the 31 firms that went to market in December 2005.

While a rush by companies to file listing applications by year end has been a factor, the 2021 figure has also been buoyed by growth in the number of IT start-ups.

Ventures had also delayed listings during the pandemic, with new coronavirus cases in the country now near their lowest since the pandemic began.

Nomura – no relation to Japan’s largest brokerage – a more than 60-year-old maker of packaging for the food industry, kicked off proceedings in December. The shares fell nearly 20 per cent on their debut on Thursday.

Investors in the likes of Lovable Marketing Group, Institution for a Global Society, ExaWizards and Croooober, all of which are set to list before the end of the year, will hope for a better performance.

Almost all the companies will debut on the Mothers market for start-ups and smaller firms. That index is down 14 per cent this year, having surged during the pandemic in 2020.

This year, as a whole, is set to see the most listings in 15 years in Japan.

Yet, changes are likely to be on the way: new Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has highlighted Japan’s start-up scene as an area in need of support and has called for a rethink of the listing process, although he has been vague on details.

Mr Kishida’s panel on “new capitalism” has also raised the issue of Japan’s lack of unicorns – private firms valued at more than $1 billion – compared with the US and Europe. It also noted the average age of Japan’s largest firms, many of which were formed in the years after the Second World War, such as Sony Group and Honda Motor, compared with more recent giants like Amazon.

Another common complaint in Japan’s start-up scene is the tendency for companies to list too early.

While December is set to be a record month, the total amount raised by companies that have listed or priced this year is 548 billion yen ($4.8bn). That’s far from the 3 trillion yen raised in 2018, a number inflated by SoftBank Group spinning out its mobile unit SoftBank.

Updated: December 4th 2021, 6:03 AM