* Raises $1.5 bln in third-biggest Malaysia IPO this year
* Institutional portion more than 30 times oversubscribed
* Last big Malaysia IPO until Malakoff Corp next year
By Yantoultra Ngui
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 19 (Reuters) - Pay-TV firm Astro Malaysia Holdings Bhd could gain at least 6 percent on Friday in the country’s third-biggest listing this year, analysts said, extending a strong run of share debuts for the top IPO market in Asia Pacific ex-Japan in 2012.
Astro, controlled by Malaysia’s second-richest man Ananda Krishnan, raised $1.5 billion in its initial public offering, bolstered by its position as the top player in the pay-TV market and by strong demand from cornerstone investors such as U.S. hedge fund Och-Ziff Capital Management.
The IPO, on the heels of Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhd’s $3.3 billion offering and IHH Healthcare Bhd’s $2.1 billion flotation, has pushed Malaysia’s 2012 IPO tally to about $7.5 billion - or nearly one-quarter of all new listings in Asia Pacific excluding Japan.
Malaysia has defied market gloom elsewhere that led several IPOs to be pulled, with several government privatisations and robust economic growth stoking interest from a captive domestic investor base and global fund managers.
Shares of Astro may gain between 6 and 10 percent in their market debut on Friday, from their IPO price of 3.00 ringgit per share, according to a Reuters survey of four analysts.
“Should be higher than the IPO price,” said Andy Ong, head of research at Affin Investment Bank in Kuala Lumpur.
“But the performance may not be as strong as Felda and IHH Healthcare given its relatively demanding valuations,” he added.
Felda, a palm oil firm, jumped 16.5 percent on its debut in June, while hospital operator IHH gained 10.5 percent on its first trading day in July.
Astro, which also counts state investor Khazanah Nasional Bhd as a major shareholder, has a near-monopoly in Malaysia’s residential pay-TV market and a subscriber base of 3.1 million. It is returning to public markets after it was taken private in 2010.
At the offer price of 3.00 ringgit per share, Astro would have a market value of 15.6 billion ringgit ($5.1 billion), nearly double the 8.3 billion ringgit it was worth when it was taken private.
“On a price-to-earnings (PE) valuation basis, we do find the issue price of 3.00 ringgit per share rather expensive as it would translate to a PE of 32 times based on FY2013 estimated earnings per share,” Kuala Lumpur-based TA Securities said in a note.
“However on a longer-term basis we believe the premium is justified due to Astro’s dominant position within the industry, expected double-digit bottom line growth, and decent bottom line margin for the next five years at least.”
The institutional portion of the IPO, or 20.8 percent of the total, was more than 30 times oversubscribed, the company said.
More than one quarter of the shares offered were taken by big cornerstone investors including Och-Ziff and Standard Pacific Capital.
Malaysia’s 2012 IPO tally has more than quadrupled from about $1.8 billion a year earlier, and compares with Hong Kong’s $1.83 billion and Singapore’s $3.97 billion so far this year, Thomson Reuters data shows.
Astro is expected to be Kuala Lumpur’s last major listing this year, with no big IPOs on the horizon until next year’s planned $1 billion offering for independent power producer Malakoff Corp Bhd, 51 percent-owned by MMC Corp Bhd.
Westports Malaysia Sdn Bhd, operator of the country’s busiest port, is looking to raise as much as $500 million in an IPO in the second quarter of 2013.
The founders of Malaysia’s AirAsia Bhd, Tony Fernandes and Kamarudin Meranun, are also set to kick off an IPO spree in 2013 with three listings worth more than $500 million.
Astro’s IPO is being handled by CIMB Group Holdings Bhd , Malayan Banking Bhd and RHB Capital Bhd . Several foreign banks are also advisers, including UBS AG, Credit Suisse Group AG, Goldman Sachs Group Inc and JPMorgan Chase & Co.