Despite losing its much-coveted title as the world’s leading venue for initial public offerings last year, Hong Kong is poised to regain the crown in 2018, global accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers says.

After two consecutive years in the top spot, Hong Kong fell from the pole position in the global IPO league table, lagging behind New York and Shanghai in terms of funds raised, held back by an absence of blockbuster listings.

But the financial hub’s IPO market will head into the New Year on a strong note, gaining momentum from a listing of “boosters”, said Eddie Wong, Hong Kong-based partner of capital markets services at PwC.

PwC believes boost from dual-class share structure reform and H-share free-float conversion will return city to top of listing league

In this Aug 16, 2016 photo, the flag of the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited (right) is hoisted next to China's flag, center, in Hong Kong. (ANTHONY WALLACE / AFP)

In the final month of last year, Hong Kong regulators gave the green light to the much-awaited dual-class share structure, setting the stage for the biggest change to the exchange’s listings rules since 1993. On the final trading day of last year, Chinese mainland policymakers said they would launch a pilot scheme to convert non-tradable Hong Kong-listed equities –so-called H-shares – into free-floating shares.

“The proposed dual-class share structures will sharpen Hong Kong’s edge as a magnet for worldwide new economy companies, while the full H-share convertibility pilot scheme could come as a new growth engine for the city’s fundraising activities,” said Benson Wong, Hong Kong-based entrepreneur group leader at PwC. “The new boosters will put Hong Kong on track to reclaim its top spot as the market with the most funds raised globally in 2018.”

The accounting firm predicted the Main Board would see 80 listings in the New Year, including some delayed mega-size deals, with 70 expected on the Growth Enterprise Market Board. PWC estimated the listings would raise between HK$200 billion and HK$250 billion. The very first floatation under the dual-class share structures is projected to make its market debut in the second half of this year.