Asset World aims to raise up to $1.6 billion in Thailand's biggest corporate listing

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thai billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi’s hospitality and retail arm, Asset World Corporation (AWC), aims to raise up to 48 billion baht ($1.6 billion) next month in the biggest listing of an individual company in Thailand.

AWC, which announced its initial public offering (IPO) plan in June, said on Wednesday it would sell about 7 billion shares, plus potentially a further billion in a so-called overallotment option, at 6 baht per share between Sept. 25 and Oct. 3.

Thailand's largest stock market listing was True's Digital Infrastructure Fund, which raised 58 billion baht in 2013. But AWC would be the biggest listing by a company, rather than a fund, overtaking state-owned energy PTT's PTT.BK 32 billion baht flotation in 2001.

Thirteen cornerstone investors have subscribed for half of AWC’s shares, with foreign investors accounting for more than half of subscriptions, including Singaporean sovereign wealth fund GIC buying $300 million worth of shares.

AWC expects to list on Oct. 10, selling between 22.5% and 25% of its total shares, it said in a statement.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley and UBS are the joint international coordinators of the offering.

Domestic underwriters include Kasikorn Securities, Bualuang Securities, Phatra Securities, and Siam Commercial Bank.

The proceeds will be used for acquiring assets, developing and renovating existing assets and repaying debt.

“AWC has good assets. Its hotels, commercial and retail locations are among the top spots,” One Asset Management CEO Pote Harinasuta, who subscribed to the IPO, told Reuters.

Its properties include the Athenee Hotel, a luxury hotel in Bangkok, and Asiatique, a popular tourist shopping site.

At 6 baht, however, the price was “a little on the high side,” Pote said, adding it was a good mid to long term investment.

AWC’s hospitality business makes up 61% of revenue, with 21.15% from offices and 17.8% from its retail unit.

Across its 10 hotels, occupancy was 77% in January-June, up from 72% a year earlier.

The firm’s commercial office businesses, in Bangkok, had a combined net leasable area (NLA) of 270,594 square meters and an occupancy rate of 84%.

It plans to increase NLA for retail and wholesale operations by 151% from current levels of about 165,628 square meters (sqm) to 415,481 sqm by 2025.

“Momentum is strong in such a low yield environment,” said a Bangkok-based fund manager.

“There is a strong domestic market bias for AWC and Charoen’s companies,” he said, adding this could appeal to retail investors and so make AWC a good short-term investment.

The group’s retail and wholesale business, which includes community malls, mostly in Bangkok, and a wholesale trading center, had an occupancy rate of 72% in the first half of the year, down from 76% in the same period of last year.

The firm’s profits fell to 489 million baht last year, from 1.3 billion baht in 2017 and 2.9 billion in 2016.

AWC, managed by Charoen’s daughter Wallapa, will pay dividends of at least 40% of profit, according to a filing.

Charoen's two sons oversee alcoholic drinks maker Thai Beverage TBEV.SI and another real estate business under Frasers Property Limited.

His other two daughters and their husbands manage the group's financial arm Southeast Insurance and retailer Berli Jucker Pcl BJC.BK.

Writing by Orathai Sriring; Editing by Susan Fenton and Mark Potter