Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia`s top mobile operator, Maxis, made a strong return to the bourse Thursday in Southeast Asia`s biggest ever IPO, worth 3.3 billion dollars.
Maxis Berhad, controlled by reclusive Malaysian tycoon Ananda Krishnan and Saudi Telecom, opened on Bursa Malaysia at a 9.2 percent premium to its 5.00 ringgit (1.49 dollars) reference price.
The opening price of 5.46 ringgit was at the top end of forecasts for Maxis` return to the stock market, two years after it was taken private and de-listed.
"Today`s listing marks another milestone on our bourse -- the largest IPO in the history of Southeast Asia and the largest telecommunications IPO in Asia-Pacific since 2000," said Second Finance Minister Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah.
Ahmad Husni said that at 5.00 ringgit per share, Maxis` market capitalisation stands at 37.5 billion ringgit, expanding the capitalisation of the nation`s bourse by 4.0 percent.
"The offering was met with strong demand from international and Malaysian investors," he said at the launch ceremony.
"On the global front, the return of Maxis has attracted the attention of the international investment community to the Malaysian equity market."
Maxis Berhad said earlier this month it had raised 11.2 billion ringgit (3.3 billion dollars) in the IPO. It offered 2.25 billion, or 30 percent, of its shares and the majority were taken up by institutional investors.
Parent company Maxis Communications, which is not listed, is expected to deploy the proceeds of the sale on funding expansion in the booming Indian and Indonesian markets, and to reduce debt.
The listing includes only Maxis` Malaysian mobile business and excludes its ventures in India and Indonesia -- a factor that has raised questions over the company`s growth prospects.
But analysts said that funds were obliged to buy the new heavyweight counter as it will be included as a component of the bourse`s main index, the Kuala Lumpur Composite Index (KLCI).
The IPO also benefited from a "scarcity premium", as many local institutions received smaller applications than they had applied for.
"This is a powerful return to the bourse and will be a boost for the index going forward," said Ikmal Hafizi, a telco analyst with TA Securities.
"The bourse hasn`t seen this kind of market trading in at least three years," he said, but warned the performance might not be sustainable and that "once the excitement is over" the share price could slide to 5.00-5.10 ringgit.
Maxis Berhad chairman Raja Arshad Raja Tun Uda said he was "delighted" by the launch.
"The strong support that Maxis Berhad has garnered from the local and international investment community is a vote of confidence from investors in both Maxis and Malaysia," he said.
"It is also a sign of confidence in our regulators` ability to maintain an objective telecommunications policy, with a level playing field for all telecommunications companies that contributes to a well-managed and regulated industry in Malaysia."
Ananda Krishnan owns a 45 percent stake in Maxis Communications, Saudi Telecom owns 25 percent and the remainder is held by local funds.
Apart from Maxis, Ananda -- ranked by Forbes magazine as Malaysia`s second-richest man -- has interests in the country`s pay TV operator Astro, gaming and power firm Tanjong, and satellite services company Measat.