Hwang-DBS Said to Ask Goldman Sachs for Advice on Sale

Hwang-DBS (Malaysia) Bhd., the investment bank backed by Southeast Asia’s largest lender, is considering a sale after the death of its founder last year, one person with knowledge of the matter said.

The company, which counts Singapore-based DBS Group Holdings Ltd. and Malaysia’s Hwang Enterprises Sdn. as its largest shareholders, has asked Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to find potential buyers, the person said, asking not to be identified as the information is private. Founder Hwang Sing Lue died on Dec. 16, the company said last year.

Hwang-DBS rose 5 percent to close at 3.98 ringgit in Kuala Lumpur today, its highest level in more than a decade, giving the Penang-based company a market value of about 1 billion ringgit ($323 million). The sale is still at an early stage and potential buyers include other Malaysian investment banks, the person said.

The possible sale was reported on Feb. 9 by the Star newspaper, which cited people it didn’t identify. Hwang-DBS Managing Director Alex Hwang Lip Teik wasn’t immediately available to comment when a call was made to his office in Penang today. Karen Ngui, a spokeswoman for DBS Group, declined to comment on the sale.

Malaysian banks and brokerages have been merging in recent years amid 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 acquired OSK Holdings Bhd.’s investment bank for 2 billion ringgit.

Hwang-DBS began operations in 1973 under the name Southern Stock Brokers Sdn. and HwangDBS Investment Bank Bhd. was created in December 1992, according to the company’s website. Through its units, DBS Group controls about 28 percent of the company, while Hwang Enterprises owns another 27 percent, data compiled by Bloomberg show.