The article "What can Astro do for its employees?" on the website of The Star suggests that employees of Astro might have bought shares on margin:
"Last week Astro had a town hall meeting with their staff to talk about the share price fall and it is really up to the company to handle the situation because no organisation will like to have a group of disgruntled employees. There may be the pressure of margin calls for those who had taken financing to buy their allotment of shares. There might be employees who might not have the ability to hold on to their shares."
The share of Astro has indeed performed quite badly:
On the other hand, a decline of 12% is not exactly shocking. If employees did indeed buy shares with borrowed money during the IPO and can't even stand a loss of this magnitude, then something is very wrong.
The writer offers a piece of advice:
Astro perhaps needs to figure out what it can do to assist their employees. A bonus or ex-gratia payment or even a one-off payment based on a pre-determined price below the IPO price to employees will do a lot to help those in need. That show of goodwill will certainly cure any grouses employees will have and it will automatically lower their holding cost of Astro's shares. It's a goodwill gesture but it's one for Astro to make.
I disagree very much with this advice. First of all, there is no free lunch here, money that will be used to bail out employees will come out of the pockets of others, in this case other shareholders of Astro.
Secondly, from the point of view of "moral hazard" this is really, really bad advice.
If indeed employees have bought shares on margin, then first of all there should be a transparent investigation, based on what information and assumptions they did that.
The Malaysian authorities are proud of the 3 large IPO's this year, but cracks have started to appear. I hope there will be an evaluation say one year in the future how this all panned out, with transparency which "cornerstone" investors held on to those shares, which sold their shares for a quick buck.