Exclusive interview with NYSE international listings head, Cassandra Seier

Eight months into her appointment at the exchange, Seier shared her strategy for attracting international listings and her outlook for the public markets across the rest of 2023.
Cassandra Seier
Cassandra Seier

The two partnerships that the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) inked with Asian bourses last year – first with the Singapore Stock Exchange (SGX) in July, followed by a partnership with the Indonesia Stock Exchange (IDX) in November – are part of its wider strategy to attract more international listings last year.

Following a challenging 2022 for all listing hubs, the world’s largest stock exchange is optimistic that this year will see volume and deal sizes pick up. It is particularly bullish on IPO-ready companies and unicorns emerging out of Asia Pacific.

“I’ve been to Asia three times in the past seven months,” Cassandra Seier, NYSE head of international capital markets, told FinanceAsia during a visit to Hong Kong last month. She shared that she sees a strong pipeline coming out of China.

It is not long ago that US-listed Chinese firms faced the threat of delisting under the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act (HFCAA). But the mood has lifted since the US Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) announced an improvement in its relationship with Chinese audit firms, and as a result, Seier “absolutely” sees increased interest from Chinese companies.

Like other prospective issuers, many of these are waiting for market volatility to abate before forging ahead with their listing plans. The collapse of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) and surprise Credit Suisse-UBS merger may have pushed those timelines further into the future, but Seier’s overall sentiment for stock market debuts in 2023 remains positive.

Excerpts from the interview with Seier have been edited for clarity and brevity.

FA: How do you assess the success of the NYSE’s recent tie-ups with SGX and IDX?

We signed five memoranda of understanding (MoU) last year, which establish a communication channel between exchanges and are a great way to share information and innovate.  

Because we have the deepest liquidity pool, we appreciate that companies that want to dual list in the US and tap into the liquidity that is available in our market.  

FA: For what type of issuer does a dual listing (or secondary US listing) make sense?

Generally speaking, it's for those companies that are ambitious in terms of growth. These tend to be larger companies that feel it would make sense to be listed on two exchanges – one is usually domestic, the other, in the US. 

A dual listing makes more sense for companies that eventually want to expand into the US and have a robust pipeline of either customers or investors based there. 

We don't target specific sectors or sizes; it's a mix of companies amongst various sectors, but they do tend to be on the bigger side. When you're a smaller-cap company, one listing should be sufficient. 

FA: Besides MoUs, what is your strategy for attracting more international listings this year?

I took on this role in the second half of 2022 and since, I’ve been encouraging my team to engage early, act as an advisor, explain our value proposition, show companies that it’s very attainable to list in the US, and then to guide them along the way. We are very committed to expanding our international footprint, including in China. 

More than 20% of companies currently listed on the NYSE are from overseas and Asia Pacific represents more than $2 trillion in market capitalisation as of December 31 last year. The plan is to continue to grow this number.  

I do believe in conducting meetings in person whenever possible, and to be able to have a team on the ground. If you have various touchpoints with a company at an early stage, you develop a relationship and that's really important, especially for those based in Asia.  

FA: What recent NYSE developments are set to support more international listings?

There are various ways for companies to enter our markets: via the traditional IPO, special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs), direct listings and then direct listings with a specific capital raise.   

The NYSE pioneered the direct listing with Spotify in 2018. Since then, we’ve had a number of companies come in through this mode. More recently, we have received approval to conduct direct listings with a capital raise. We want to continue to work with companies to make sure there are multiple ways for them to access the market, whichever way makes most sense for them. 

We have been focussing a lot of our resources on ESG innovation and have done many things in this arena of late. To highlight just two, in 2019 we launched the NYSE Board Advisory Council. This body is a great resource for companies looking to expand their board with diverse and board-ready candidates. Since the launch of the free resource which is available to companies that are either in the pre-listing phase or already listed, we have placed over 35 diverse candidates on boards. 

Another example is our Sustainability Advisory Council, which launched in March last year. It allows for the sustainability officers of our community of listed companies to come together and share ESG best practices. This is a fantastic platform because it showcases our community and the societal impact that it is trying to achieve. We really care a lot about our community of listed companies, and offer it a lot of opportunities to connect. 

Overall, I think we want to make sure that we are providing a platform for listed companies that helps balance investor access with investor protection.  

FA: Do Spacs remain an attractive listing route?

2022 was a quiet year for traditional IPOs, and we saw the same thing with Spacs. But no, we are not seeing a large number of new Spac listings. 

Generally, these innovations settle at some point. Spacs still make sense for certain companies, but just like any company looking to go public right now, they are waiting for the right market conditions. 

FA: How does the recent turmoil in the banking impact listing activity?

It affects volatility, it affects sentiment and affects the deals.

FA: What is your outlook for new listings on NYSE over the remainder of 2023?

So far, the IPOs that have been executed have priced generally within or above target range. This is a good indication and I think all eyes are still on what the Fed is going to do from an inflation standpoint. So that's something to look out for.

But overall, we’re optimistic that we will see a higher number of IPOs in 2023, compared to previous activity. We don’t have an exact target; however, I can tell you that we are quite excited about Asia. Another region that we’re focussed on is Latin America. 

I think we're all excited now that Covid-19 restrictions have lifted pretty much all around the world. People are able to see each other again, attend conferences, and meet face-to-face. So, I'm optimistic about the year ahead. 

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