ASTRO All Asia Networks plc, to be listed on the KLSE in a month’s time, will emerge as Malaysia’s largest cross-media company with a market capitalisation of RM6.5bil to RM8bil.
The country’s largest initial public offering (IPO) this year, it is expected to be among the top five largest equity offerings in Asia. The company expects to raise between RM1.71bil and RM2.14bil.
At an underwriting ceremony in Kuala Lumpur yesterday, Astro chairman Datuk Badri Masri said the company would offer 508.4 million shares to the public, of which 83.4 million were for local investors, including Astro's 1.1 million subscribers, and 425 million for institutional investors.
Local institutional funds are allocated 100 million shares and foreign investors 325 million.
The book-building exercise for the foreign tranche began this week, the price ranging from RM3.42 to RM4.22. The final figure will be determined when the exercise closes on Oct 10.
A portion of the shares meant for retail investors would also be allocated to the 1.1 million Astro subscribes, Commerce International Merchant Bankers Bhd (CIMB) group chief executive Nazir Razak said.
He said this would be done via a ballot exercise and subscribers would have to apply using a blue form.
Badri said the IPO would enable the company to continue to invest in the future to serve customers better, and to act as a hub for the creation of intellectual assets for distribution in the region.
CIMB led the underwriting agreement for the retail offering signed with domestic underwriters yesterday.
Joint lead underwriters for the retail offering are RHB Sakura Merchant Bankers Bhd, AMMerchant Bank Bhd and Aseambankers Malaysia Bhd.
Underwriters for the retail offering are Malaysian International Merchant Bankers Bhd, Alliance Merchant Bank Bhd, Affin Merchant Bank Bhd, Southern Investment Bank Bhd, Affin-UOB Securities Sdn Bhd and Hwang DBS-Securities Bhd.
CIMB is also adviser and sole book-runner for the Malaysian institutional offering.
As to the response to the book-building exercise, Nazir Razak said: “We have been on a pre-marketing trip and found the investors' response positive.’’
Astro is registered in Britain and has six core businesses – Astro pay-TV; a radio network which spans to Calcutta; Celestial Pictures, which holds rights to the Shaw Brothers library in Hong Kong; film making; V Publishing; and talent management. It also owns an animation company, Philippines Animation Studios Inc.
Astro group chief executive officer Ralph Marshall said about 98% of the company’s revenues came from its Malaysian operations, and the balance from its other overseas operations, especially Celestial Pictures. He expects the overseas activities to contribute about 20%–25% over time.
For the financial year ended Jan 31, the company reported sales of RM1.2bil. The company was aiming to turn profitable by Jan 31, 2004, but achieved free cash flow last year.
Badri said in his speech that the subscriber base would grow from its current level of 1.1 million to 2.5 million in the next six years. Astro’s penetration rate is 23% of the 4.8 million Malaysian households with TVs.
So far, the company has invested RM4.5bil, of which RM1bil is in infrastructure; RM1.5bil in programming; RM1.5bil in set-top boxes subsidies to encourage take up, and RM500mil in buying the Shaw Library.
Before the IPO, Astro’s shareholders Usaha Tegas & Affiliates hold 59% equity; Khazanah Nasional (29%); and bumiputra investors the remainder. After the IPO, Usaha Tegas will end up with 42%; Khazanah 22%; and bumiputra investors 9.4%. The balance 26.6% will constitute free float.
The company is targeting to launch its prospectus on Oct 1.
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