Maybank Buys AirAsia X Shares to Deter Drop After IPO

AirAsia X Bhd.’s shares were stabilized by Malayan Banking Bhd. yesterday, preventing the budget airline from becoming only the second Malaysian stock in a year to close below its offer price on its Kuala Lumpur debut.

Maybank, as the nation’s biggest lender is known, bought 19.5 million shares at 1.25 ringgit yesterday, matching the initial offer price, according to an exchange filing by AirAsia X today. The stock closed unchanged yesterday, before rising 1.6 percent today to 1.27 ringgit without any further stabilization, Azran Osman-Rani, AirAsia X’s chief executive officer, said in a phone interview.

“The timing is a bit unfortunate given the overall cycle of investment into Southeast Asia,” Gerald Ambrose, who oversees the equivalent of $1.7 billion as managing director at Aberdeen Asset Management Sdn., said by phone in Kuala Lumpur. He said Aberdeen Asset doesn’t own AirAsia X shares.

Kuala Lumpur emerged as the world’s fifth-largest destinations for share sales last year, surpassing Asian financial hubs including Singapore, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Slowing economic growth and political protests from Brazil to Turkey have since spurred capital flight from emerging markets. Speculation of reduced Federal Reserve stimulus has also deterred overseas investors from holding riskier securities.

As stabilizing manager, Maybank’s investment banking unit can buy as many as 118.5 million shares in AirAsia X within the first 30 days of trading, according to a filing on June 25. CLIQ Energy Bhd. is the only one of 13 stocks that traded for the first time in Kuala Lumpur in the past 12 months to close below its offer price on debut, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

‘Huge Volume’

“There was huge volume yesterday with 160 million shares traded,” Azran said. “In that context, the 19.5 million shares bought by Maybank was small.”

AirAsia X, the long-haul arm of Tony Fernandes’ AirAsia Bhd., completed a 988 million ringgit ($313 million) share sale. It priced shares midway between the 1.15 ringgit to 1.45 ringgit range marketed to institutions, even after demand for

Tune Ins Holdings Bhd., an insurance company also controlled by Fernandes, has climbed 42 percent after falling below its offer price in intraday trade during its February debut, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Two of Asia’s four biggest first-time share sales in 2012 came from Malaysia as the nation raised a total 21.2 billion ringgit last year, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhd., a Kuala Lumpur-based palm oil producer, lured $3.3 billion, making it the world’s third-biggest IPO last year, the data show. It jumped more than 16 percent on its debut, though is now trading 0.9 percent below its offer price for institutions at 4.50 ringgit.

IHH Healthcare Bhd., Asia’s biggest hospital operator, is trading 41 percent higher after raising $2 billion in a dual listing in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore last July.

Westports Malaysia Sdn. and UMW Holdings’ oil and gas unit are among companies that intend to mount IPOs in Kuala Lumpur this year. Ranhill Energy Bhd., a power and water company, is currently gauging investor interest to raise as much as 753 million ringgit, two people with knowledge of the matter said June 17.

(Corrects to clarify total proceeds from the IPO in seventh paragraph.)
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