March 11 (Bloomberg) -- AMMB Holdings Bhd. and K&N Kenanga Holdings Bhd. are among first-round bidders for Hwang-DBS (Malaysia) Bhd., the investment bank backed by Southeast Asia’s largest lender, said four people with knowledge of the matter.
The company, which counts Singapore-based DBS Group Holdings Ltd. and Malaysia’s Hwang Enterprises Sdn. as its largest shareholders, also drew offers from Alliance Financial Group Bhd. and Affin Holdings Bhd. this week, three of the people said, asking not to be identified as the process is private. The bids valued Hwang-DBS at as much as 1.68 billion ringgit ($541 million), one person said.
Malaysian banks and brokerages have resorted to mergers to fend off increased competition from overseas firms. Last year, K&N Kenanga Holdings Bhd. acquired the investment banking and broking unit of ECM Libra Financial Group Bhd. for 875 million ringgit, while RHB Capital Bhd. bought OSK Holdings Bhd.’s investment bank for 2 billion ringgit. Hwang-DBS, whose shares have rallied 47 percent this year, has a market capitalization of 988 million ringgit.
Representatives for Affin, K&N, Alliance and AMMB declined to comment or weren’t immediately available.
Hwang-DBS asked Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to help find potential buyers after the death of its founder last year, a person with knowledge of the matter said last month.
The brokerage began operations in 1973 under the name Southern Stock Brokers Sdn., and Hwang-DBS Investment Bank Bhd. was created in December 1992, according to the company’s website. DBS Group, Southeast Asia’s largest lender, controls about 28 percent of the company through its units, while Hwang Enterprises owns 26.5 percent, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
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