SINGAPORE/KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Malaysia’s biggest mobile phone operator, Maxis Communications, plans to raise $2 billion in a public offering later this year, underscoring the revival of Asian IPO’s as equity markets rebound.
The offering, which could be the biggest in Malaysia since 1995, comes just two years after Maxis was taken private by its reclusive billionaire owner, Malaysian tycoon Ananda Krishnan, who owns telecom assets in India and Indonesia.
Two sources told Reuters that Maxis has chosen Goldman Sachs (GS.N), Credit Suisse (CSGN.VX) and CIMB (BUCM.KL) to advise it on a listing in Kuala Lumpur. Under Bursa Malaysia rules, a company needs to sell a minimum 25 percent stake to list on the stock exchange.
“It will create some sort of excitement because it was the darling of investors then and it had substantial foreign shareholdings too,” Abdul Jalil Rasheed, equities chief at Aberdeen Asset Management’s Malaysia unit said on Wednesday .
The move comes after Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak last month asked Maxis Communications Bhd to re-list on Bursa Malaysia to boost liquidity and draw in investors to Southeast Asia’s most laggard stock market so far this year .KLSE.
Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse and CIMB declined to comment on the share sale plans. The sources declined to be identified because details of the deal are not public.
“There is no announcement at this point. An announcement will be made at the appropriate time,” Catherine Leong, Maxis’ head of public relations, told Reuters when asked for a comment.
IPOs have sprung back to life in booming markets in Asia, led by China after new share offerings grinded to a halt last year due to the meltdown in markets.
Dealflows are also recovering in Malaysia.
AirAsia (AIRA.KL), Southeast Asia’s largest budget carrier, said this week it plans to raise about $170-$180 million through private placements to institutional investors.
Some analysts said Maxis could be looking to raise money as it seeks to fund capital expenditure required by its 74 percent-owned Indian unit Aircel.
“With such huge capex, perhaps Maxis has found itself geared to the limit and needs to turn to capital markets for funds,” investment bank ECM Libra said in a research note.
Maxis said in March it was planning to invest $5 billion over the next three to five years to accelerate Aircel’s cellular coverage expansion in India.
“Now is probably a good time for Maxis to be re-listed. With that kind of size, the stock will provide the kind of liquidity investors were looking for,” said Aberdeen’s Rasheed.
The listing would be the biggest since the $1.1 billion listing by Petronas Gas (PGAS.KL) in Malaysia in 1995.
The Malaysian market is up 34 percent this year versus a 50 percent rise in Singapore’s main index .FTSTI.
Krishnan, ranked by Forbes Magazine as Malaysia’s second-richest man at $7 billion, controls 75 percent of Maxis. The rest is owned by state-owned Saudi Telecom Co Ltd 7010.SE.
Krishnan also owns pay-television operator Astro All Asia Networks (AAAN.KL) and Tanjong Plc (TJPL.KL), a power and gaming group, and satellite operator Measat Global (MTCB.KL), through his investment vehicles.
Shares of Astro and Measat have risen 8.0 percent and 10 percent respectively since June 4 when market talk first emerged Maxis will be re-listed through one of the companies. (Additional reporting by Soo Ai Peng in KUALA LUMPUR)
By Saeed Azhar and Julie Goh
(Editing by Anshuman Daga)