By Elzio Barreto and Steve Garton
HONG KONG (Reuters) - The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) sees technology companies driving a revival in new Asian listings and expects double-digit IPOs through the end of 2017 from the region, the exchange's global head of capital markets said in an interview.
New listings should start picking up pace in the next months after a slow first half of the year, said Garvis Toler, who is finishing up a trip to Asia with stops in Japan, Indonesia, Hong Kong and mainland China.
NYSE, which has seen only two listings from Asia this year, is betting that technology companies that have raised billions of dollars in private markets would lead the rebound.
"If that number was in the double digits in the next year and a half it wouldn't be surprising at all," Toler told Reuters. "I would absolutely say technology is where the greatest interest is coming from," he added.
The comments mirror those by Nasdaq Inc Chief Executive Officer Robert Greifeld, who said in June that Chinese companies were eager to list in the United States and double-digit listings this year would be seen as a success.
Companies including Chinese car-hailing app Didi Chuxing and financial technology company Lufax, plus India's Flipkart and cab hailing firm Ola, are among several that have raised billions of dollars from investors betting on the region's booming demand for internet services.
NYSE, which is owned by Intercontinental Exchange Inc <ICE.N>, regularly battles with rival Nasdaq Inc for listings, including technology and internet companies that had been a staple for the Nasdaq for many years.
More recently the two have lost ground in China's technology sector, with a long list of companies looking to follow Giant Interactive and Focus Media in delisting their U.S. shares in search of a higher valuation closer to home. Recent departures include Youku Tudou, Mindray Medical and Qihoo 360 Technology, an internet security provider with a $9.3 billion market capitalization.
NYSE has had some high-profile tech IPOs the past years, including the world's largest in 2014 when Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding <BABA.N> went public, and Japan's Line Corp <3938.T><LN.N> and communications software provider Twilio Inc <TWLO.N> this year.
New listings have plunged 50 percent globally so far in 2016 because of a spike in volatility in equity markets, in line with the decline in IPOs at the NYSE, while in market leader Hong Kong activity fell 26 percent, Thomson Reuters data showed. Large capital raisings in private markets and a pickup in mergers and acquisitions for technology companies also means a lot of them will postpone listing plans, Toler added.
"That said we're sitting here now with relatively low interest rates, equity valuations are at an all-time high, you've got really low volatility and so you have some of the trappings of what should be a decent IPO market," he said.
How the U.S. elections in November impact listing plans would be more apparent in early September, when the U.S. holiday season ends.
"It would be absolutely fair to say that companies and bankers are watching the elections with quite a bit of interest," Toler said.
(Reporting by Elzio Barreto and Steve Garton of IFR; Editing by Denny Thomas and Stephen Coates)