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Philippine broadband firm eyes country's biggest IPO of up to $865 mln

MANILA, Oct 1 (Reuters) - The regulator of the Philippines’ bourse on Thursday approved the initial public offering (IPO) of fibre broadband services provider Converge ICT Solutions Inc, allowing the bookbuilding for an up to 41.52 billion pesos ($856.97 million) share sale.

Converge joins other firms in Malaysia and Thailand eyeing to list in October, signalling a revival in investor interest in Southeast Asia’s underperforming markets.

In a notice, the Philippine Stock Exchange said Converge could move forward with its plan to sell as many as 1.73 billion shares, including the oversubscription option, at a maximum price of 24 pesos each. Final price would be announced on Oct. 9, the bourse regulator said.

The IPO could potentially be the country’s biggest, though regulatory filing prices in the Philippines have often been set far above value and the number of shares offered could be reduced during the IPO process.

“Internet connectivity is a prime service at this time, with online classes and work from home arrangements due to the pandemic,” PSE CEO Ramon Monzon said in a statement.

The offer period for Converge’s IPO, the third listing in the Philippines this year, will run from Oct. 13 to 19.

Converge has 750,000 residential customers mostly in and around the capital. The company, which is building a $1.8 billion internet backbone, is banking on broadband demand from e-commerce activity and a surge in home working and learning due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It lists U.S. private equity firm Warburg Pincus as a minority shareholder.

President Rodrigo Duterte has prohibited schools from reopening until a vaccine is available, while businesses have adopted working from home in a country that has recorded the most coronavirus infections in Southeast Asia.

$1 = 48.45 Philippine pesos Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales Editing by Ed Davies

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