Malaysian developer Aspen launches Catalist IPO

Aspen's chief executive Murly Manokharan said his firm chose Singapore as a listing destination as it wants to be a regional player.
Aspen's chief executive Murly Manokharan said his firm chose Singapore as a listing destination as it wants to be a regional player.ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI

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.

Chief executive Murly Manokharan said his firm chose Singapore as a listing destination over Malaysia as it wants to be a regional player.

"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 firm has a partnership with Ikano, the parent company of furniture giant Ikea, and is looking forward to growing across the region together with the Swedish company.

For starters, the two partners are co-developing Aspen Vision City, a 99ha 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 project will be completed in phases over the next 10 years.

One of the commercial developments within the project, Vervea, which includes 441 units of three- and four-storey commercial units, is already 83 per cent sold.

Aspen made a loss of RM306,000 (S$98,000) for the full year last year, on revenue of RM99.7 million.

Datuk Murly said he is confident that investors will 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 government policies promoting affordable home ownership, he said.

Unlike most private developers in Malaysia, Aspen targets the middle-income mass market.

It also plans to push into markets such as Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam and Cambodia, it said in its offer document.

Aspen's offer, which opened at 3pm yesterday, closes at noon next Wednesday. Its shares are expected to start trading next Friday.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 20, 2017, with the headline 'Malaysian developer Aspen launches Catalist IPO'. Print Edition | Subscribe