Nasdaq eyes strongest year for IPOs since 2007


By Steven Scheer

TEL AVIV, Oct 16 (Reuters) - Nasdaq OMX will haveits strongest year for IPOs since 2007 with a total of 120companies listing in 2013 thanks to economic recovery in theUnited States and rising interest rates, a senior official saidon Wednesday.

Bruce Aust, executive vice president at Nasdaq OMX, saidinvestors were looking beyond bonds and corporate debt forreturns.

"As rates go up, people are looking for alternative classesto invest in and that bodes well for equity markets," he toldReuters during a trip to Israel.

"We saw a lot around the financial crisis where companiesdidn't think they would get the valuations they wanted to in anIPO so they took the M&A route.

"That has changed in the U.S. This year is the strongest IPOmarket since 2007," Aust said.

The Nasdaq said in September that 166 companies had gonepublic on U.S. markets in the first nine months of 2013,compared with 109 for the same period in 2012.

Of the 96 public offerings on Nasdaq so far in 2013, 40 havebeen in healthcare.

Aust said large private equity-backed companies were alsolooking to carry out IPOs, citing the announcement byBlackstone-owned hotel operator Hilton Worldwide that it planneda $1.25 billion listing.

On Tuesday, online messaging service Twitter chose the rival New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) for its upcominglisting, dealing a blow to the tech-heavy Nasdaq, which bungledFacebook Inc's 2012 offering.

"We think the natural home for them is Nasdaq and we aredisappointed but we wish them well in their IPO," Aust said.

But he said Marriott International was moving to Nasdaq fromNYSE this month and a total of $500 billion in market value hasshifted to Nasdaq from NYSE in the past five years.

"We feel we are definitely getting some of the large globalbrands switching to Nasdaq," said Aust, citing Kraft Foods and Viacom.

He said that as many as 10 Israeli companies are expected tolist on Nasdaq in the next 18 months.

There are 70 Israeli or Israel-related companies listed onthe Nasdaq, the most for one country after the United States andChina, which has 90.

The most imminent Israeli listing will be do-it-yourselfInternet site builder Wix, which expects to raise up to $100million. "We will see a couple more before the end of thisyear," Aust said.

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