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Saturday, 22 July 2017

Aspen (Group) Holdings Limited

Aspen (Group) Holdings Limited ("Aspen" or the "Company") is offering 173.27m shares at $0.23 each for a listing on Catalist, of which 4.348m is for public and 168.922m shares via placement. The offer will close on 26 July 2017 at 12pm and starts trading on 28 July at 9am. The market cap based on the IPO price is S$199.32m. You can obtain a copy of the prospectus here.

Principal Business

The Company is a Malaysia-based property development group with a focus on developing affordable residential and mixed development properties and target middle-income mass market segment. Aspen intends to provide "value-added" options to its units, such as furnishings and home appliances of reputable brands at cost-efficient prices.

The flagship project of Aspen is the "Aspen Vision City", a 245-acre freehold mixed development project. Aspen has entered into JV agreements with Ikano (Ikano is the franchisee of IKEA for the South East Asia region and owns the franchise in Singapore) to develop some properties within the Aspen Vision City (artist impression below on Aspen Vision City)

While you can see the Penang bridge in the picture above, do note that Aspen Vision City is not on Penang Island itself but on the mainland in Batu Kawan. I have no clue where Batu Kawan is or its future potential. 


The Company has 3 stated on-going projects launched in Penang, namely Tri Pinnacle, Vervea and Vertu Resort. The estimated date of completion for Vervea and Vertu is 3Q 2018 and Q1 2021 for Tri Pinnacle. This will be the time where the bulk of the profits will be recognised. 

According to a Company fact sheet which i received from the IR company, most of the projects launched have already been sold ranging from 57% to 83%. According to that same fact sheet, the aggregate confirmed sales which have not been recognised as revenue amounted to approximately RM 1.108 billion. This will probably be the revenue that will be coming on stream in 2018 and 2021 when the projects are completed.

Financial Highlights and Valuation

The Company has started to recognise some of the revenue using % of completion method. The earnings will be very lumpy as the Company will be recognising revenue from ongoing projects and then launching new projects within the Aspen Vision City.


According to the valuation by Henry Butch, the market value of the projects is around RM 1,233.50 million. That translate into S$392m as of today's rate. I am not sure how that was accounted for in the books.

The prospectus is frankly not easy to read, i have also no idea how to interpret "Gross Development Value" and "Projected Development Profit". Perhaps someone in the know can enlighten me. Is the Company trying to tell me that there are profits to be recognised in future, that is why they can sell the Company at a high price to me today?

Use of Proceeds

The Company is raising $39.9m and intends to use the proceeds to acquire new land for future developments.


You can see from the above table that the Company will continue to be tightly controlled by the existing shareholders. It is interesting to note that the CEO, Dato Murly started working at Ivory Properties when he was 18 and he is only 30 years old now.  A very young CEO indeed (not to mention his high pay as well...)! 

SBK intends to subscribe for 26m shares at the IPO and the public will hold around 17% of the Company post listing. The SBK shareholdings will then be distributed to its shareholders post the listing of the Company according to the table below.

From the table below, you can see that shareholders of AVG and SBK paid around 2.08 cents to 4.41 cents. New investors are coming in at 23 cents.

Peer Valuation

Looking at the peer table above, probably the closest peer are Oxley and World Class Global (which is not in the table). You can find my write up on World Class Global here.

According to the prospectus, price to book is around 3.9x (23 cents divide by NTA of 5.89 cents). As you can see from the table above, most of the peers are trading at below 2x book value and generating a profit. Even World Class Global, with exposure to Penang and Australia, was launched at a price to book of around 2.28x based on its IPO price (now would be lower given the share price is below 26 cents).

If i use World Class Global as a benchmark, where its valuation is lower than Aspen, where investors are more familiar with it and where the founders probably supported the IPO at launch, the subsequent drop of WCG below its IPO price probably send a strong signal that investors here are not able to appreciate such companies - not to mention one that is coming purely from Malaysia. 

What I like about the Company
  • Focus on marketing quality properties to the masses - This is probably the right market segment to target in Malaysia where there will always be demand for affordable quality housing. 
  • Tie up with IKEA for mixed development - The JV with Ikano to develop the shopping mall and open an IKEA mall within Aspen Vision City is a good move to attract traffic to the mall. Mixed development concept is also catching on with families now preferring to stay close to amenities. 
  • KPMG is the auditor - okay at least they are using one of the big 4 to audit their accounts but i have not heard of Henry Butcher, the independent valuer
Some of my Concerns
  • Single country (mainly Penang) exposure - All the projects are located in Penang. Given the listing is in Singapore and reporting the earnings in Singapore, investors will have demographic, economic and currency exposure to Malaysia, especially that of Penang. Given how the MYR has depreciated against the SGD over the last 30 years, investors will have to see if they want the currency exposure. (This is not the case where they are taking advantage of local costs in MYR and selling the products in USD)
  •  Expanding to other South Ease Asia regions - The Company intends to expand into regions like Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam and Cambodia (sounds like an Oxley in the making).  While it holds potential, it is really too early to tell if they will be able to execute their strategy of exporting "affordable quality housing" overseas.  
  • Lumpy earnings and huge premium over its NTA - Adjusting for the estimated net proceeds and post invitation share cap of 886,617,900 shares, the NTA of 5.89 cents is at a huge discount over the issue price of 23 cents. Investors are paying forward for the future value of the land that is currently under development.
  • Company is currently loss making with no stated dividend policy - Company is still loss making with no clear sights of when it will turn in a profit or pay out a dividend. It will probably need to use all the profits generated to continue developing Aspen Vision City.
  • Joint ventures is always a risk - Sorry for my pessimism, JVs is always a risk unless the partnership is already tried and tested. While the tie up with Ikano is promising, there is always a risk that it may not work out. Here is an article on the fight over iconic Capitol in Singapore.
My Chilli Ratings

Comparing World Class Global where i give it a zero chilli rating, it will be hard for me to give anything higher than that for Aspen, especially when local investors here are more familiar with WCG, and that WCG promised to pay dividends and has a better price to book valuation.

(Additional note: Hattan Land, a developer from Malacca, did a reverse take-over of VGO, placed out shares at 28 cents as well and the current price is below its "IPO price" as well).

As such, it is a zero chilli rating for me. I will give this IPO a miss and perhaps use the $2 for a nice bowl of Penang Laksa.

Straw Poll


K Lau said...

Thank you Mr IPO... I enjoyed the analysis, especially the ending. Would love the chance to join you for laksa 😂

Mr. IPO said...

Hahaha yes. I am sure there will be a chance next time!

JC Wong said...

I am from Penang. No confidence in this stock after read your blog. Fyi, last week I had a Penang Laksa at Sentosa Malaysia food street cost me $8 a bowl le~

Meng said...

waaa....where to buy a bowl of Penang Laksa for $2 in Singapore?

Meng said...

This is another of those property companies going IPO without profits. Frankly, really no idea how they price the IPO other than looking at their land banks. I guess ultimately, it depends on who are taking up the placements shares. For them to launch the IPO, the placement tranche should have been fully taken up.

Also, on the valuer they used - Henry Butcher. When i went to their website to take a look (, and I saw the picture of their office, I am a bit worried....

Any way, if any investors are looking for property counters to invest, I think there are a lot more property counters available for investment (that are below a dollar) and they offer track record of a listed company. Some of these may not be pure property play, but they are profitable and have done pretty well with their property projects/investments. Two such examples are Keong Hong and Hock Lian Seng (not forgetting that Hock Lian Seng is sitting on a pile of cash of S$200m).

So, I guess can give this IPO a miss...but again, you don't know.....our first listing in 2017, a small Malaysian company by the name of Samurai 2K....reported full year profits in May 2017, with a drop in profits of about 60% to RM2.2 million. But, the share price has started climbing from about S$0.40 in end June 2017 to S$0.755 today, up more than 80% within a month.... it has a PER in excess of 100 times and a market cap of S$72 million. If you have the IPO share at $0.20, you have made about 3 times on your capital.

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