Asian hospital operator makes strong trading debut

Associated Press

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Asia's largest hospital operator IHH Healthcare surged more than 10 percent in its trading debut Wednesday on Malaysia and Singapore's stock exchanges, defying a downturn in global markets after raising nearly $2 billion in the world's third-biggest IPO this year.

IHH rose nearly 14 percent to a high of 3.19 ringgit ($1) before easing to 3.14 ringgit at the close of morning trade in Malaysia, up from its initial public offering price of 2.80 ringgit. In Singapore, the stock gained about 11 percent to 1.23 Singapore dollars (97 cents).

IHH's IPO followed the $3 billion listing of Malaysian plantation giant Felda last month and Facebook's share sale in May which raised $16 billion. Its strong first-day debut mirrored that of Felda, which also gained and currently trades about 15 percent higher than its IPO price.

In contrast, Facebook's shares have plummeted after its listing. Turbulence in financial markets has also resulted in the shelving of several major IPOs in Asia, including a planned $2.5 billion share sale by Formula One in Singapore.

The strong performance for the two large Malaysian IPOs, both of which were for companies partly owned by the government, was within market expectations due to support from domestic investors and local funds. Malaysian state investment arm Khazanah Nasional has a 48 percent stake in IHH, which owns some 30 hospitals across Asia and Turkey.

About two-thirds of IHH shares were snapped up by 22 institutional investors including Kuwait Investment Authority, asset manager Blackrock Investment and The Government of Singapore Investment Corp. Bankers said IHH is the world's second largest listed healthcare provider after HCA Holdings in New York in terms of market capitalization.

IHH officials have said the group will use the bulk of its IPO proceeds to repay debt, with the rest for working capital and listing expenses. IHH aims to strengthen its presence in Asia, with plans to add 17 more hospitals across the region over the next five years.

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