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Asia's IPO Market Awakens

More companies in Asia are lining up to tap the stock markets for capital for the first time since the financial crunch late last year. Experts say the recent surge in stock prices is bringing in investors.

Adani Power of India waited more than half a year for stock market sentiment to improve before selling shares to the public. Its initial public offering, or IPO, opened Tuesday, aiming to raise more than $500 million.

On Wednesday, property company Sena, will list on the Stock Exchange of Thailand - one of at least 14 companies expected to list here in the next few months.

Vichate Tantiwanich, chief marketing officer in charge of issuers and listings at the exchange, says previously delayed plans are back on track.

"On the last quarter of 2008, we haven't seen any IPO. They just delayed for 2009," he said.

When the global financial crunch set in late last year, Asian companies faced difficulties raising money to expand their businesses. Banks were hesitant to lend and nervous investors held on to their money.

That appears to be easing, starting with borrowing by large companies and governments early this year. The region's soaring stock prices - up about 70 percent since March - have revived investors' appetite for new stocks. That new demand brings hope for a solid economic recovery - fresh capital for businesses means growth and could lead to more employment.

On Tuesday, China State Construction Engineering Corporation raised $7 billion - in what analysts say is the world's biggest IPO in more than a year. Since China lifted an IPO moratorium imposed last year, a series of companies has made it to the market.

The accounting firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers says some $12 billion could be raised in IPOs in Hong Kong alone this year.

Schive Chi, chairman of the Taiwan Stock Exchange, says at least 17 Taiwan-owned companies based overseas have applied to list, attracted by recent tax reforms and Taiwan's better relations with China. He added foreign high technology companies are also considering raising capital in Taipei.

"The reason is up to May, there was only one company listed on Nasdaq. For many high-tech companies there's just nowhere for them to list," he said.

Vichate at Thailand's exchange says now is a good time to return to emerging markets, because shares are still cheap and there is room for growth as economies recover.