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Samling is said to prepare 1b ringgit IPO for Bentley dealer

[KUALA LUMPUR] Samling Group, the Malaysian timber giant, is planning an initial public offering of its automotive operations that could raise more than one billion ringgit (S$330.53 million), people with knowledge of the matter said.

Samling is working with advisers to explore a possible dual listing of the business in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore later this year, according to the people. The share sale could include Samling's domestic car dealership division as well as operations under StarChase, a luxury auto distributor backed by the group's controlling Yaw family, one of the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private.

StarChase runs dealerships in Hong Kong and mainland China selling brands including Porsche, Aston Martin and Volvo. In 2014, it paid S$455 million to acquire United Engineers's Wearnes Automotive unit, which distributes Bentley and Jaguar cars in Singapore and Indonesia. Samling itself sells Bentley, Mitsubishi and Honda vehicles in Malaysia and provides after-sales services for those marques, according to its website.

Any deal will add to the US$11.3 billion raised through first-time share sales in South-east Asia last year, up from US$6.1 billion in 2016, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Samling would join Malaysian state-backed hospital operator IHH Healthcare , which completed a dual listing in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore in 2012.

Deliberations are at an early stage, and Samling may opt to list the business in only one stock market, according to one of the people.  A representative for Samling, which is based in Sarawak state on the island of Borneo, didn't immediately respond to requests for comment. StarChase didn't immediately answer a call to its Shanghai office and an email sent to a general inquiry address.

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Samling, founded in 1963, is focused on forestry management and timber production as well as wood product manufacturing. It is also involved in oil palm cultivation and property development.


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