SINGAPORE/MANILA (Reuters) – Philippines’ Converge ICT Solutions Inc is targeting the country’s biggest initial public offering (IPO) after setting price terms to raise as much as $680 million, sources said, amid a boom in demand for fibre broadband during the pandemic.

FILE PHOTO: A Filipino online tutor wears a wig as he talks to students from a computer in the head office of 51Talk, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in Pasig City, Metro Manila, Philippines March 12, 2020. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez

Converge, which is banking on higher internet demand for e-learning and working from home during the pandemic continuing, joins other companies in Malaysia and Thailand planning listings this month, signalling a revival in investor interest in Southeast Asia’s underperforming markets.

Converge has set the sale price at 16.50 to 19 pesos ($0.3406 to $0.3922) per share, sources with direct knowledge of the issue said on Monday.

At the upper end, it could raise as much as 32.87 billion pesos ($678.6 million), including the over-subscription option.

The country’s biggest IPO up to now was Robinsons Retail Holdings Inc RRHI.PS, which raised $627 million in 2013.

A Converge spokesman declined to comment.

“There’s quite a lot of excitement as this is one of the highest growth stories coming out of the Philippines,” said one source. The sources declined to be identified as they were not authorised to speak to media.

Seven cornerstone investors that had committed to buy shares include a Canadian pension fund, the sources said.

Morgan Stanley and UBS are global coordinators, while BPI Capital and BDO Capital are the joint local underwriters.

“Converge is in an industry that continues to grow by leaps and bounds in the pandemic,” April Lee Tan, research head at brokerage COL Financial in

(Bloomberg) — The Philippine central bank is set to leave its key interest rate unchanged for a second straight meeting, allowing previous stimulus steps to work their way through an economy in recession.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas will keep the benchmark rate at 2.25% Thursday, according to all but one of the 20 economists surveyed by Bloomberg. At its last rate meeting in August, the central bank embarked on a “prudent pause” following 175 basis points of reductions this year and other liquidity measures.

Policy makers will “allow more time for previous measures to feed through to the economy and for BSP to assess their effects,” said Euben Paracuelles, an economist at Nomura Holdings Inc. in Singapore.



chart: Deep Dive


© Bloomberg
Deep Dive

That prior easing has yet to trickle down to the real economy, with consumer confidence falling to the weakest level on record in the third quarter. With private consumption making up more than 70% of the Philippine economy, the weak sentiment “says a lot about the outlook” for the recovery, and could prompt policy makers to provide “dovish forward guidance,” Paracuelles said.

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The peso has risen more than 4.5% this year, beating all its peers in Asia. The currency climbed to its strongest level in almost four years in September.

Here’s what to watch out for in Thursday’s decision:

Policy Space

While consumer-price increases remain below the midpoint of the BSP’s 2%-4% target, the inflation-adjusted interest rate is already below zero. Analysts are watching for signals about the bank’s ability and willingness to provide further monetary support.

“BSP still has the monetary buffer to perform rate cuts, and the market is looking out for further hints on that front,” said Howie Lee, an economist at Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp. in Singapore.



a circuit board: Philippines real interest rate falls below zero


© Bloomberg
Philippines real interest rate falls

(Bloomberg) — The Philippines has asked the central bank to lend it 540 billion pesos ($11.1 billion) to help finance a budget deficit that’s under strain from Southeast Asia’s worst Covid-19 outbreak.



a person riding a bicycle on a city street: A motorcyclist passes an entrance to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas ahead of an interest rate news conference in Manila, the Philippines, on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019. The Philippines central bank left its benchmark interest rate unchanged for a second straight policy meeting, while cutting inflation forecasts for this year and next.


© Bloomberg
A motorcyclist passes an entrance to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas ahead of an interest rate news conference in Manila, the Philippines, on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019. The Philippines central bank left its benchmark interest rate unchanged for a second straight policy meeting, while cutting inflation forecasts for this year and next.

The government plans to settle the debt on or before Dec. 29 at zero interest, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Benjamin Diokno said in a mobile-phone message on Wednesday. The request for a “fresh provisional advance” will be submitted to the Monetary Board for approval, he said.

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The latest advance would fully use up the amount the central bank is allowed to lend the government under its charter. It comes immediately after the Bureau of the Treasury this week repaid the 300 billion pesos it borrowed from the central bank in March. A pandemic relief law signed earlier this month temporarily raised the cap by another 280 billion pesos, which has a longer repayment period of up to two years.

Philippines Joins EM Central Banks’ Unorthodox Bond-Buying Club

The debt plan allows the government to keep its cost of borrowing as low as possible, said Emilio Neri, lead economist at Bank of the Philippine Islands in Manila. Although the arrangement is tolerated by the market, the central bank’s independence and credibility could be at risk if it suggests that its mandate of price and financial stability may have to “take a backseat to give way to the goals of the national government,” he said.

Governments in Southeast Asia have been leaning on

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