Astro forecasts RM28mil-RM33mil profit for current year


  • Business
  • Thursday, 02 Oct 2003

BY P.W. THONG

ASTRO All Asia Networks plc has forecast a profit before tax but after minority interest of between RM28.6mil and RM33.6mil on a turnover of RM1.4bil for its current financial year ending Jan 31, 2004. 

The forecast profit was based on gross proceeds of between RM2.11bil and RM1.37bil, the maximum and minimum subscription receipts, respectively, pursuant to its initial public offer (IPO) exercise. 

In its listing prospectus issued yesterday, Astro said it posted a pre-tax loss of RM24.9mil for the six months ended July 31 although it managed to register an operational profit of RM51.3mil.  

Turnover for the period was RM651.2mil. 

Under the listing exercise, Astro is offering up to 508.4 million shares of 10 pence each, comprising an institutional offering of 425 million shares and a retail offering of 83.40 million shares.  

Of the retail offering, 19.07 million shares have been reserved for directors and employees of Astro and four million for directors and employees of Usaha Tegas group and Khazanah Nasional Bhd. 

Of the remaining retail offering, 34 million shares are reserved for eligible Astro service subscribers, retailers, distributors, and installers, while 26.33 million shares are for subscription by the public.  

Active Astro subscribers – those whose accounts are not overdue as at Sept 30 – will be eligible for a preferential ballot. 

Astro said the minimum subscription amount of RM1.37bil to be raised was based on all retail offering shares and 250 million institutional offering shares being subscribed at RM3.80 and RM4.22 respectively. 

It said the final retail price would equal either the lower of the indicative price of RM3.80 or 90% of the institutional price after the book building exercise. 

Under the maximum subscription scenario, it would use the proceeds to repay its private debt securities facility of RM661.8mil, foreign export credit agency structured trade facility of RM77.1mil, and promissory bearer notes of RM74.4mil. 

The balance would be used to partially repay a syndicated term loan facility of RM551mil, the equity in TVB Publishing Holding Ltd of RM19mil, listing expenses of RM113.34mil, and as working capital to the amount of RM613.76mil. 

Under the minimum subscription scenario of RM1.37bil, the company would reduce its working capital to RM161.1mil, repay a private debt securities facility of RM403.1mil, and use RM86.3mil to meet listing expenses. 

The prospectus cautioned prospective investors that Astro was heavily indebted, as its subsidiary AAAN Bermuda Ltd had total bank borrowings, finance lease liabilities and advances from corporate shareholders of RM1.3bil as at July 31, 2003. 

However, Astro believed it was uniquely positioned to derive significant growth in its Malaysian and regional businesses due to its competitive advantage. 

As at July 31, Astro had a 23.3% penetration of multi-channel subscription television services in the country, which was low compared with the more developed markets.  

“As a result, Astro believes there is potential for the Malaysian market to grow in the short to medium term. Astro intends to continue providing high-quality content, in major Asian languages and English, tailored to suit the specific cultural sensitivities and budgets of Malaysia's diverse ethnic audiences,'' it said. 

Astro has an exclusive licence for DTH multi-channel subscription television services in Malaysia until 2017, and a non-exclusive licence until 2022.  

It is also able to broadcast through other media such as cable without restriction on the number of channels that it could offer.  

The company currently has a subscriber base of 1.1 million. 

Astro's retail offering closes on Oct 8, and the institutional offering on Oct 10. 


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