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Philippines' Converge aims to raise $600m in 2nd-biggest IPO

Broadband boom could bring internet service provider a market value of $2.6bn

Philippine broadband provider Converge ICT Solutions aims to raise up to $600 million in its IPO next week. (Screenshot from Converge ICT's website)

MANILA/SINGAPORE (Reuters) -- Philippine fibre broadband provider Converge ICT Solutions Inc priced near the bottom of an indicated range its initial public offering (IPO) that aims to raise up to $600 million, in the country's second-largest ever listing.

Converge is banking on a boom in demand for fibre broadband during the coronavirus pandemic, which has forced workers and students to stay at home. Converge, which lists U.S. private equity firm Warburg Pincus as a minority shareholder, is building a $1.8 billion internet backbone to support a nationwide rollout.

The IPO comes as hefty share sales across Southeast Asia in the fourth quarter mark the return of investor interest in the region's underperforming markets. Thailand's Siam Cement Group Packaging PCL priced its IPO on Thursday, in the country's second-biggest listing this year that could raise up to $1.5 billion.

In a notice to the local bourse, Converge said it would sell up to 1.73 billion shares, including an over-allotment option, at 16.80 pesos ($0.35) each. The indicated range was 16.50 to 19 pesos.

At $600 mln the IPO would give Converge a market value of $2.6 billion and is second only to Robinsons Retail Holdings Inc's $627 million share sale in 2013.

The offering was well oversubscribed, with 80% of allocations going to investors like global emerging market funds and sovereign wealth funds, a person with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters. The person declined to be identified citing lack of authorisation to speak to media.

Shares in Converge would start trading on Oct. 26, after its offer period on Oct. 12 to 16.

The firm's ambitions to ramp up broadband internet in the country comes as business operations and movement of people in and around Manila - a coronavirus hotspot - remain restricted since President Rodrigo Duterte imposed a strict lockdown in mid-March.

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