TheEdgeDaily.com, December 27, 2004
He made headlines. When he moved, the market stirred. When he made the news, he grabbed the headlines. Tan Sri Francis Yeoh, YTL Corporation Group Managing Director has been picked by The Edge as one of the men who has rocked Corporate Malaysia in 2004. Here, The Edge salutes him, celebrates his success and shares his story.
Tan Sri Francis Yeoh
Group managing director, YTL Corp Bhd
The YTL group is founded on hard work and old money, but there is nothing old school about how Yeoh, 50, runs his businesses today. He has been busy expanding the group's reach in 2004 — notably in power plants overseas and in cement plants locally.
YTL Power International Bhd planted its first step in Indonesian power when it bought a 35% stake in PT Jawa Power for RM529.72 million in December 2004. Yeoh says the YTL group is eyeing more utility assets in the country, especially in the power and water sectors. Longer term, this buy is seen as a step towards establishing a transnational electricity supply grid connecting the Asean countries.
Yeoh also expects to increase the group's shareholdings in its existing utility companies such as its 33.5% stake in Australia-based power firm ElectraNet Pty Ltd. On the cards are possible mergers and acquisitions in the UK, Europe, Australia and the Asian region. "…this continues our strategy of combining investments in utilities in lower risk markets such as UK and Australia, with investments in Asian growth markets," Yeoh says, once again displaying his business foresight and dynamism.
He is also taking advantage of low cement prices and an ailing industry to tighten his grip on domestic cement assets. In November, YTL Cement Bhd announced that it was making a mandatory offer for Perak-Hanjong Simen Sdn Bhd. This buy places YTL Cement as the second largest cement producer in the country, behind La Farge Malayan Cement Bhd.
After 20 years at the helm, it is little wonder that Yeoh was, for the second year running, named one of the top "CEO brands" in a survey by a communications and branding firm in April. He is also well-known for his interests in the fine arts and music — opera music, in particular. When asked about these corporate social responsibilities, he says: "I am not doing it for corporate PR but because I believe it is part of our soul to nurture people in alternative fields." — By Lim Ai Leen