,A banker familiar with the listing process of Aztech says that the technology sector continues to draw the interest of investors from the region and even globally. TECHNOLOGY stocks may be taking a breather but that does not seem to be stopping a decent flow of new listings from this sector. Yesterday, a company that makes Internet of Things (IoT)-based products got listed on the Singapore Stock Exchange with a market value of just under S$1bil (RM3.7bil). The Singapore firm, with one of its operations in Johor, had attracted some Malaysian funds as cornerstone investors. These included the likes of the Employees Provident Fund, Affin Hwang Asset Management and Hong Long Assurance. The listing, which saw it raise some S$188.6mil (RM578mil), saw its institutional part oversubscribed by 16 times and its public portion by 18 times. A banker familiar with the listing process of Aztech says that the technology sector continues to draw the interest of investors from the region and even globally.“In Aztech’s case in particular, the interest was strong due to it being a technology enabler for blue-chip customers coming from the US and also the fact that its listing was done at a decent valuation, ” he says. On Thursday, shares of South Korean e-commerce giant Coupang surged 40% in its market debut on the New York Stock Exchange, making it the largest IPO so far this year in the US. On Bursa Malaysia, another tech company which is preparing itself for a floatation is CTOS Digital Sdn Bhd. Its backers are notable private equity firm Creador, which have said that since their investment into CTOS back in 2014, their efforts have been towards making Malaysia a centre of excellence for credit reporting in Asean. CTOS is a credit reporting agency that provides credit data and information online. The company provides services that include e-KYC, fraud monitoring and consumer credit score. It also has a complete portfolio of credit risk management solutions and services. Its clients include the general public as well as banks, insurance, legal firms, SMEs and telcos. CTOS’ listing will no doubt be drawing some goodwill from the listing of another Creador-backed firm, MR DIY Group (M) Bhd, whose share price has more than doubled since its listing last October. This is despite some sceptics, including some research houses who believed the firm’s earnings downside remains a risk in the subsequent quarters, considering the lockdown measures and potential margin compression from accelerated store openings. But last month, the largest home improvement retailer reported a 19% jump in net profit to RM108mil from RM90.9mil a year ago, saying that its same store sales boosted its revenue and profits. Meanwhile, technology-based special-purpose acquisition vehicles or SPACs are all the rage in the US and the fever could be spilling into the Malaysian market. Sources say that at least two groups are planning technology-focused SPAC listings on Bursa Malaysia. One idea could be to raise funds to acquire technology companies in the semiconductor supply chain that are based in Malaysia. Some of these counters trade at earnings multiples of up to 100 times. Cases in point include JCY International Bhd (152 times), GHL Systems Bhd (141 times) and JF Technology Bhd (90 times). “With tech valuations still at historical highs, owners of unlisted tech companies could be wondering how they can benefit. But a SPAC could offer to buy them out even at, say, 30 to 40 times earnings, which would be a windfall for the owners. The SPAC could then get the asset listed and aim for a PE multiple higher than that, ” explains a seasoned investment banker. However, a few challenges remain. One is that the tech fever may be tapering off. Two is that there may be a lack of sizeable technology companies in Malaysia for SPACs to acquire. Finally, investors may not be keen to invest in SPACs in Malaysia due to the past experience with such listings. SPACs were first introduced in Malaysia in 2009, making our market a pioneer for such listings in this region. Only a handful of SPACs were listed on Bursa Malaysia and only two graduated to become full-fledged listed companies, namely, Hibiscus and Reach Energy Bhd. The other SPACs, namely, Sona Petroleum Bhd, CLIQ Energy Bhd and Red Sena Bhd had to be delisted with proceeds returned to shareholders. These SPACs either did not meet the three-year timeline to close a deal or failed to get shareholders’ approval for their maiden acquisitions. Since the listing of Red Sena in 2015, there have been no new SPACs coming into the local market. That though is not going to stop interested parties from pursuing the SPAC route. Globally, from the UK to Hong Kong and Singapore, regulators are toying with the idea of tweaking their rules to allow SPAC listings. Tech entrepreneur Patrick Grove has been first off the line, listing Catcha Investment Corp as a SPAC on the New York Stock Exchange last month. The SPAC, which reportedly raised around US$300mil (RM1.2bil) will be looking for an Australian or Asian tech company to buy.
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