Initial public offerings (IPO) recovered from a slow start in the South Korean market to end 2020 on a high note as investors returned in strength after the Covid-19 scare.

A total of 76 companies were listed during the year, excluding special purpose acquisition companies, according to thebell’s league tables. Eleven companies listed on the main KOSPI bourse and 65 on the tech-heavy KOSDAQ market.

Of the total, 60 companies’ opening prices were higher than their IPO prices on their first trading day and opening prices of 26 companies were twice their IPO levels.

Most companies listed in the second half opened at double their IPO prices, after many firms were reluctant to list in the first half of the year due to heightened volatility stemming from the Covid-19 pandemic. The depression over the market began to lift in July, with SK Biopharmaceuticals’ successful debut on the KOSPI. 

Listings of real estate investment trusts (REITs) were not as impressive. All six REITs listed in 2020 opened below their IPO prices, though JR Global REIT and ESR Kendall Square REIT were the only trusts still trading lower on December 30.

Except for REITs, there were only 10 companies that opened below their IPO prices during the year: JNTC, NPD, The Nature Holdings, Brand X Co, BBC, Vaxcell-Bio Therapeutics, Wonbang Tech, Nextin, PeopleBio and QuantaMatrix.

IPO stocks remained strong in 2020, with shares of 57 companies trading at prices above their IPO prices as of December 30.

Myoung Shin Industry, which listed its shares on December 7, finished at 45,650 won ($4,170) on December 30 after setting its opening price at 13,000 won, double the IPO price of 6,500 won. Its share price rose more than 600% above the offering price.

Share prices of 18 companies rose more than 100% compared to their IPO prices as of December 30, with biotech firms like SK Biopharm and EO Flow leading the way.

However, 18 firms ended trading on December 30 with share prices below their offering prices. BBC finished at 18,400 won, 40% lower than its IPO price of 30,700 won. (Reporting by Hye-rim Pi)