KUALA LUMPUR — Shares in Malaysia's IHH Healthcare jumped nearly 10 percent on Wednesday as Asia's biggest hospital operator made its stock market debut in the world's third-largest IPO this year.
IHH shares opened at 3.07 ringgit ($0.97) in Kuala Lumpur, up 9.6 percent from the 2.80 ringgit offer price set earlier for a flotation that has raised $2.0 billion.
The company is being dual-listed in Malaysia and Singapore. IHH's Singapore-listed shares opened at 1.22 Singapore dollars ($0.96), or about nine percent higher.
Analysts had forecast the shares to gain on their debut amid expected growth in Asian demand for quality medical services.
IHH employs 24,000 people in 30 hospitals and clinics in Malaysia, Singapore, Turkey, China and other Asian markets.
The initial public offering is the third-largest this year after social networking giant Facebook and Malaysian plantations operator Felda Global Ventures.
Facebook raised $16 billion from its IPO in May but its shares have since plummeted. Felda raised $3 billion last month and its shares soared on their debut.
Felda and IHH went ahead with listing plans despite the volatile world economic environment, which has forced the delay of other major public offerings in Asia, including a planned $2.5 billion Formula One listing in Singapore.
Analysts said investors expect good long-term returns from IHH as Asia's middle class grows and seeks better medical services.
"It's in the health sector. Whether times are good or bad, people still fall sick. It's a defensive sector," said Kaladher Govindan, head of research at stockbroking firm TA Securities in Kuala Lumpur.
Like Felda, the IHH listing is part of a plan to divest Malaysian government-linked companies.
IHH, which is majority-owned by Malaysian sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional, has reserved 62 percent of its offering for 22 so-called cornerstone investors.
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