Malaysian developer Aspen Group launches IPO on Catalist

An artist's rendition of Aspen's upcoming joint venture development with Ikano, Aspen Vision City.
An artist's rendition of Aspen's upcoming joint venture development with Ikano, Aspen Vision City.PHOTO: ASPEN (GROUP) HOLDINGS

SINGAPORE - Malaysia's Aspen (Group) Holdings, a developer of affordable homes and mixed developments, has launched its initial public offering (IPO) on the Catalist board here.

The firm is offering 173.3 million shares at 23 cents each.

These include 4.35 million shares for the public and 168.9 million placement shares.

The IPO is set to raise net proceeds of $36.72 million, which Aspen plans to use to acquire development land repay bank borrowings and for working capital.

When asked why the firm did not go public on the Malaysian bourse, chief executive Dato' Murly, said it chose Singapore as it wants to be a regional player. Its current projects are all in Penang.

"We are coming in as a Penang-centric real estate developer but we want to be a regional player. We feel Singapore attracts more international investors and so it fits us well at the moment," he said.

The company has a partnership with Ikano, which owns and operates Ikea stores in Singapore, Malaysia and Thailandand is looking forward to growing across the region together with the Swedish firm, he added.

The two partners are co-developing Aspen Vision City, a 245-acre freehold development in Batu Kawan, Penang, which will include homes, a park, a shopping centre and the first Ikea store in northern Peninsula Malaysia.

The development will be completed in phases over the next 10 years.

Unlike most other private property developers in Malaysia, Aspen targets middle-income mass market purchasers, Dato' Murly said.

"We see this as a great opportunity," he added. "Our homes range in price between RM300,000 and RM400,000 for an 800 sq ft condominium apartment."

Aspen made a loss of RM306,000 for the full year last year, on revenue of RM99.7 million.

Dato' Murly said he is confident that investors can focus more on the company's growth potential rather than its past loss.

The developer's prospects are boosted by a growing population in Malaysia, a strong inflow of investments into Penang, as well as recent Malaysian government policies promoting affordable home ownership.

These include 100 per cent stamp duty exemption for first-time home buyers purchasing homes valued up to RM300,000 from the start of this year to the end of next year.

Aspen's IPO, which opened at 3pm on Wednesday (July 19), closes at noon next Wednesday (July 26).

Its shares are expected to start trading next Friday (July 28).

Correction note: The article has been changed to reflect that Aspen has a partnership with Ikano, which operates Ikea stores in Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand through a franchise licence.