Converge ICT targets Philippines biggest IPO amid regional market revival

SINGAPORE/MANILA (Reuters) - Philippines’ Converge ICT Solutions Inc plans to raise as much as $680 million in an initial public offering that would be the country’s largest ever, sources said on Monday, encouraged by a coronavirus-spurred boom in demand for fibre broadband.

FILE PHOTO: A Filipino online tutor wears a wig as he talks to students from a computer in the head office of 51Talk, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in Pasig City, Metro Manila, Philippines March 12, 2020. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez

Converge joins a host of Southeast Asian companies planning listings, including Thailand Siam Cement Group Packaging’s $1.5 billion IPO, signalling a revival in investor interest in region’s underperforming markets.

The internet provider, which is banking on continued higher demand for online services as people study and work at home during the pandemic, has set the sale price at 16.50 to 19 pesos ($0.3406 to $0.3922) per share, sources with direct knowledge of the issue said.

At the upper end, the IPO of up to 1.73 billion shares could raise as much as 32.87 billion pesos ($678.6 million), including the over-subscription option. That would surpass the $627 million raised by Robinsons Retail Holdings Inc RRHI.PS in 2013.

“There’s quite a lot of excitement as this is one of the highest growth stories coming out of the Philippines,” said one source.

Seven cornerstone investors have committed to purchasing shares, including a Canadian pension fund, said the sources, who declined to be identified as they were not authorised to speak to media.

Converge, which lists U.S. private equity firm Warburg Pincus [WP.UL] as a minority shareholder, declined to comment.

The sources also said SCG Packaging was likely to price its offering near the top of its 33.50 baht to 35 baht per share price band after a strong oversubscription, buoyed by domestic demand. SCG Packaging is a unit of Siam Cement Group Pcl SCC.BK. SCG Packaging did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Philippines' benchmark stock index .PSI has declined 24% so far this year, while Thailand's .SETI has lost 21%.

However the value of Southeast Asian IPOs are at $4.6 billion over the same period, up from $3.1 billion a year ago, Refinitiv data shows, mainly due to $3 billion raised by Thailand’s Central Retail CRC.BK in February.

Morgan Stanley and UBS are global coordinators for the Converge IPO, with BPI Capital and BDO Capital joint local underwriters. The final price is due to be announced on Oct. 9, with the offer period of Oct. 13 to 19. [L4N2GS1GF]

Reporting by Anshuman Daga in Singapore and Neil Jerome Morales in Manila; Additional Reporting by Chayut Setboonsarng in Bangkok; Editing by Ed Davies and Jane Wardell