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Another extraordinary year

In February 2021, I wrote about an extraordinary year. 2020 was indeed remarkable. It was a year in which New Zealand companies thrived from afar, raising capital in record amounts and a year that we saw a record number of companies from New Zealand list on ASX. 

We all anticipated 2021 to be different. Indeed it was. No-one really predicted that the pandemic would still be alive and well at the end of 2021 but it was probably also not expected that 2021 would be a year that more records would be broken in the global IPO market.

New Zealand was no exception. For most of the year, large parts of the country were locked down. Auckland – the “Hermit Isthmus” – locked down for almost a third of that year and, for the most part, the rest of the country was firmly closed to the rest of the world. 

By the end of 2021 New Zealand still had her international borders firmly closed and had only just started to re-opened domestically, but, remarkably, ASX saw listings from New Zealand companies with a combined valuation of over $3.5 billion - the highest on record. Another extraordinary year.

2021 in review

New Zealand entered 2021 enjoying a summer with essentially nothing by way of Covid related restrictions. The year started quickly, with Truscreen (ASX:TRU) the first ASX listing of 2021 taking up a secondary listing on ASX on 6 January 2021. Truscreen is a New Zealand medical device company that developed an AI-enabled device that can detect precancerous and cancerous cervical changes in real-time via optical and electrical measurements of cervical tissue.

However, in February 2021, Auckland was thrown into partial lockdown after three cases were detected in the community. Listing ceremony plans for New Zealand food-kit company, and household name, My Food Bag (ASX:MFB) were put aside but the Parnell-based company still successfully completed their dual listing on the NZX and ASX on 5 March 2021.

Freedoms were restored later that March and, a few months later, DGL (ASX:DGL), an Australasian dangerous goods logistics company, listed on ASX on 24 May 2021. DGL shares rose on debut and continued to do so throughout the year, ending the year at almost triple the issue price.

Then suddenly, on 17 August 2021, a full lock-down was imposed across New Zealand where Auckland remained until the end of the year.

This did not slow down activity, with cancer diagnostics company Pacific Edge (ASX:PEB) taking up a secondary listing on the ASX on 27 September 2021.

On 21 November 2021, steel products distributer Vulcan Steel (ASX:VSL) listed on ASX ringing the ASX New Zealand bell to mark the commencement of trading at their offices in East Tamaki, Auckland.

At the end of that month, after what felt like many to be an eternity, Auckland slowly crept out of lockdown. Our children went back to school and we once again savoured the aroma of a barista-made, flat white.

We ended the year celebrating our final listing from New Zealand with property development company Winton Land Limited (ASX:WTN), which dual listed on the NZX and ASX on 17 December 2021. We were privileged to be able to join Winton at their offices in person in Auckland, and witness founders Chris and Michaela Meehan ringing the ASX bell to mark the commencement of trading on ASX. Winton Land was the largest company from New Zealand to list on ASX in 2021, bringing the total number of New Zealand companies on the ASX to 66.

The year of mythical creatures.

When NZ Foreign Minister, Nanaia Mahuta, addressed New Zealand’s relationship with China she used the analogy of the “The Dragon and the Taniwha”. Little did she realise, that 2021 would also be the year of the unicorn with three circa billion dollar New Zealand companies, Pacific Edge, Vulcan Steel, and Winton Land, listing on the ASX.

These trans-Tasman listings represent a shared interest, a shared desire to grow our capital markets and to prosper.  Nanaia Mahuta, referred to the “Blue Pacific Continent” or “Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa” and although she used that in the context of China, it does surely also speak to the special relationship that we hold with our neighbours across Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa in Australia. We are fierce rivals on the rugby field, but we both need the game to prosper and grow.

I am not going to predict what will occur in 2022. Already it would appear the world is again meeting the unexpected. But what is certain is that the year of the tiger, although not so mythical a creature, could well be a legendry one. Australia and New Zealand could well possibly need to work together more closely than ever before and it is likely that we will see even more New Zealand companies seeking to raise capital by way of an ASX listing. And possibly even a couple of more unicorns.

Remember, “He waka eke noa”. We are all in this together.