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'Abnormal IPO': Injap Sia’s MerryMart Makes Splashy Debut on Stock Exchange

First IPO of the year happened in the midst of a pandemic.
IMAGE MerryMart / Doubledragon
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Despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic that has crippled many businesses in the country and worldwide, Edgar “Injap” Sia bucked the odds and successfully listed his grocery venture on the Philippine Stock Exchange on Monday, June 15. 

MerryMart is the first initial public offering of the year. Immediately the stock climbed 50 percent to P1.50 from its initial share price of P1 per share, bucking the trend on the main index, which fell about five percent at the close of trading.

Sia, who is perhaps best-known for co-founding the Mang Inasal chain of restaurants that he later sold to Jollibee, is also CEO of Doubledragon Properties Corp. During his speech, he said it makes sense to list MerryMart during this period of uncertainty.

“Some people may ask, why continue to conduct an IPO in the middle of this pandemic?” he said. “Well, if you really analyze, many of the most successful businesses around the world, was either started during a crisis, or has deepened its market grip during the crisis period. Because actually, during a highly challenging period like where we are now, the large established players’ huge size and heaviness, suddenly becomes a disadvantage, and natural to a major crisis comes the repositioning of elements, such as, a major change of customer behavior, which suddenly, the pile of money alone, can not solve.

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“Here is the abnormal way to do an IPO,” he added. “To list when company is still small on its first few years, then bring along investors mostly retail ones, to be with you during the hyper growth years. That way you share the value of the company to tens of thousands of many small other investors that you don’t know. 

“I believe doing an abnormal IPO is alright. An entrepreneur must not be greedy enough to just share the company when he thinks there is limited growth left for the company to grow in the next 10 to 20 years.

“The abnormal way of doing an IPO is I believe the most inclusive way.

Sia also reminded the audience, which included Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez and PSE officials, that his other company, DoubleDragon Properties, also listed in the stock exchange during what he called “abnormal” times. 

“By the way, DoubleDragon did an abnormal IPO too,” he said. “I’m sure many of you have remembered as the IPO was just 6 years ago in April 2014. At that time during the IPO bell ringing, the equity of DD was only P589million and total assets was only P1.8 billion, vs now as of end of last year, DDs equity is now at P43.92 billion and total assets now stands at P113.55 billion.”

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Meanwhile, Dominguez said the IPO was a clear vote of confidence on the country’s ability to weather the ongoing health crisis.

"This initial public offering signals trust in our good economic prospects,” Dominguez said. “It shares in the optimism that, notwithstanding the global downturn engulfing us today, the Philippine economy has the fundamentals to rise quickly from the devastation wrought by the pandemic."

Since the start of the year, Sia’s MerryMart has opened a new outlet almost every week until the pandemic outbreak in March. To date, the company has a total of seven operating stores. 

MerryMart is aiming to open a total 1,200 outlets with systemwide sales of P120 billion by 2030.

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Paul John Caña
Associate Editor, Esquire Philippines
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