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Movers Shakers

   
theedgedaily.com, Friday, 27-12-2002

Staying power. That’s what many in the top echelon of Corporate Malaysia seem to have. How else can one explain the fact that the list of personalities who made waves during the year comprised the “usual suspects”? That is not to say that there were no rising stars. Our list of “People to Watch” in 2003 includes a fair sprinkling of some new faces. Who are these people and can they make an impact?

Tan Sri Francis Yeoh
Tan Sri Francis Yeoh has often projected an image of urbane gentility. He is into fine arts. He is an avid audience of the likes of Pavarotti. He often drops the odd multi-syllablic word or two, which nobody can remember long enough to look up in the dictionary. And, of course, he helms one of the most successful businesses in the country — the YTL group of companies.

Always synonymous with getting it right, even during the tough times, the group came into the international limelight this year when YTL Power International Bhd, a 60 per cent subsidiary of YTL Corp Bhd, acquired Wessex Water, the UK utilities arm of failed energy trader Enron.

As is often the case when a Malaysian company goes abroad and does good, there was a fair amount of chest-thumping for YTL and Yeoh in our small corner of the international corporate arena. Even those who were less than enamoured by this Tan Sri admitted then that he had it — “it” here being that elusive quality that separates the business tycoon from the garden variety. The deal, costing RM6.7 billion, put both YTL and Malaysia on the world corporate map. Have we arrived again, after having left the scene in the wake of the Asian financial crisis?

But even before the rambunctious chest-thumping had died down, the first whiff of scandal drifted over from England. There were charges of bribery and corruption. Of course, all were denied — vehemently, and by all. Those who recall meeting with Yeoh at the announcement of the acquisition remember that he did not seem his normally jubilant self. Mayhap he was tired. That is what he had said then.

Strictly legally speaking, Yeoh and YTL cannot be seen as anything but innocent until proven otherwise. Nevertheless, the stench of scandal lingers.

It was recently announced that YTL was bidding for yet another project. YTL will persevere, it seems, despite allegations, baseless or otherwise. And along with it, so will Yeoh. — By Leela Barrock

For the entire list in The Edge, please click here.

theedgedaily.com, Friday, 27-12-2002

Staying power. That’s what many in the top echelon of Corporate Malaysia seem to have. How else can one explain the fact that the list of personalities who made waves during the year comprised the “usual suspects”? That is not to say that there were no rising stars. Our list of “People to Watch” in 2003 includes a fair sprinkling of some new faces. Who are these people and can they make an impact?

Datuk Seri Sulaiman Taib
Some may perceive Sulaiman, only 34 years old, as an upstart in the banking sector. The long-drawn-out RHB Bank-Bank Utama merger negotiations had this young man, son of the Chief Minister of Sarawak, in the corporate limelight for most of 2002.

Sulaiman, industry observers say, will be regarded as the one who brought an anchor banking group into the Cahya Mata Sarawak (CMS) stable of companies. No mean feat that, some would say. But having the right political connections helped, detractors opine.

Sulaiman is also a man to watch in 2003, at a time when the RHB group comes under new ownership and management. While it isn’t yet confirmed that he will helm the enlarged banking group, he is seen to be definitely given a significant role to play.

How he will steer the group in a fast-changing landscape will be under close scrutiny. More so when there is scepticism on his ability to run a pan-Malaysian bank, given his inexperience and youth. Time, then, will tell. — By Anna Taing

Nazir Razak
In January, CIMB (Commerce International Merchant Bankers) Bhd will be listed on the Main Board of the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange (KLSE). While not the first merchant bank to be listed, it will be the only one, because RHB Sakura Merchant Bank will be taken private.

Nazir, who is chief executive officer of CIMB, is generally regarded as the “driver” of the listing of the investment bank. He has come up with an innovative scheme to ensure that employees are not unduly stressed, financially, by taking up the offer of shares.

Nazir gets 42 million shares or 5.0 per cent in CIMB under the CEO option scheme and based on a step-up price structure, he pays an initial price of RM1.63 a share, or one times net tangible assets (NTA).

With the listing, Nazir has placed himself under the corporate spotlight. While he has been credited for taking the investment bank to top spot in the industry in the last few years, the onus is now on him to sustain its performance.

“He will be judged… if CIMB does not perform, it will be reflected in the share price [when it is listed]),” comments an industry observer. — By Anna Taing

Datuk Azman Yahya
Azman’s reputation was established when he took the helm of Pengurusan Danaharta Nasional Bhd in 1997 and then the Corporate Debt Restructuring Committee (CDRC) in 2001. Now, Azman has decided to venture into the corporate world on his own via Symphony House Bhd (SHB), which will be listed on the Mesdaq some time next year.

Azman has since succeeded in creating a few ripples, especially with an initial plan to do a reverse takeover of Malpac Holdings in July, which was subsequently aborted because both sides could not come to an agreement.

He decided to take SHB to a direct listing. SHB provides secretarial and corporate services via its unit, Signet & Co Sdn Bhd. Apart from that, SHB provides information technology services to financial institutions.

Having played an instrumental role in successfully overseeing the corporate sector’s debt restructuring exercises as well as rehabilitating the banking sector’s bad loans, the investment community will be watching to see how far this man will take SHB upon listing. In a way, expectations will be high, given his track record in Danaharta and CDRC. So, can he live up to expectations? That is the question. — By Anna Taing

Tan Sri Francis Yeoh
Tan Sri Francis Yeoh has often projected an image of urbane gentility. He is into fine arts. He is an avid audience of the likes of Pavarotti. He often drops the odd multi-syllablic word or two, which nobody can remember long enough to look up in the dictionary. And, of course, he helms one of the most successful businesses in the country — the YTL group of companies.

Always synonymous with getting it right, even during the tough times, the group came into the international limelight this year when YTL Power International Bhd, a 60 per cent subsidiary of YTL Corp Bhd, acquired Wessex Water, the UK utilities arm of failed energy trader Enron.

As is often the case when a Malaysian company goes abroad and does good, there was a fair amount of chest-thumping for YTL and Yeoh in our small corner of the international corporate arena. Even those who were less than enamoured by this Tan Sri admitted then that he had it — “it” here being that elusive quality that separates the business tycoon from the garden variety. The deal, costing RM6.7 billion, put both YTL and Malaysia on the world corporate map. Have we arrived again, after having left the scene in the wake of the Asian financial crisis?

But even before the rambunctious chest-thumping had died down, the first whiff of scandal drifted over from England. There were charges of bribery and corruption. Of course, all were denied — vehemently, and by all. Those who recall meeting with Yeoh at the announcement of the acquisition remember that he did not seem his normally jubilant self. Mayhap he was tired. That is what he had said then.

Strictly legally speaking, Yeoh and YTL cannot be seen as anything but innocent until proven otherwise. Nevertheless, the stench of scandal lingers.

It was recently announced that YTL was bidding for yet another project. YTL will persevere, it seems, despite allegations, baseless or otherwise. And along with it, so will Yeoh. — By Leela Barrock

Datuk Md Nor Md Yusof
Valentine’s Day will be etched deeply in the memories of the 55-year-old ex-banker. On Feb 14, 2001, he was appointed the managing director of Malaysian Airline Systems Bhd, a hot seat that thrust the New Zealand-trained chartered accountant into the limelight.

Since then, Malaysia Airlines has undergone several changes, with most of them taking place this year. In January, investors saw the unveiling of a broad asset unbundling scheme. Md Nor ensured that the scheme was implemented within a reasonable time frame. It is probably not his biggest achievement to date but it has earned him enough respectable reviews from analysts.

“He is focused and takes questions well during briefings. He does not shy away from difficult situations and is down to earth,” says an analyst.

A workaholic who spends some 12 to 15 hours a day behind his desk, Md Nor has instituted several changes to turn Malaysia Airlines around. The fuel cost is hedged until March next year. The national airline has seen a rise in domestic fares and reduced its dealings with unprofitable ventures.

Another development is a cut on dealings with companies linked to the previous management. The results are paying off, as seen by its latest results.

In its second quarter ending Sept 30, 2002, Malaysia Airlines returned to profitability, for the first time in five years. In the coming year, all eyes will be on the numbers at Malaysia Airlines and the man at its helm. With the restructuring, Malaysia Airlines is an asset-light entity with no gearing. This merely adds on to the pressures faced by Md Nor as there is no excuse for the airline to fail. — By M Shanmugam

T Ananda Krishnan
You can’t quite pin the mega tycoon down.

“AK” to his friends, Ananda is all things — phone magnate (courtesy of Maxis Communications), media tycoon (Measat Broadcast Network Systems, which runs Malaysia’s only pay-TV service), gaming operator (Tanjong plc) and power producer (Powertek, currently being taken private).

At an age — 64 — when others might have wanted to slow things a little, the media-shy man, who ironically would have brought into being the largest converged media entity in Malaysia (Maxis, Measat and Binariang [his satellite company]), ratcheted it up a notch by floating Maxis, Malaysia’s largest cellular company, in one of the largest initial public offerings (IPOs) in Asia-Pacific in July this year.

It was also one of the largest sales of a cellular company (celco), not exactly a sought-after sector, at RM3.1 billion. But lately, it seems the celco is losing steam. While its acquisition of the mobile division of Time dotCom Bhd for RM1.47 billion was largely a given, its eventual non-bid for Indonesia’s Indosat caused its share price to slip when analysts reckoned it had lost a good chance to expand its reach outside the home market.

Maxis will also lose the top celco spot, with the impending Celcom-TM Cellular merger, though analysts still like it for its high payers.

Another perplexing development is the recent announcement of across-the-board sales tax and royalties on gaming companies. It was only a year ago that Tanjong was favoured with a tax and royalty cut which was then increased again.

Whilst it seems a fair move to levy the same “sin tax” on all companies, some eyebrows are raised on possible ramifications of the winds of change in political corridors.

But AK, who made his first millions in oil broking, is a wily player. And most of all, all things to all men. — By Jacqueline Ho

Abdul Wahid Omar
One year since taking the reins at the labyrinthine United Engineers-Renong group of companies, the unassuming thirty-something Wahid is invariably polite in public appearances though more solid answers would be welcome.

Indeed, most would mistake the relative silence at the group as Wahid not “moving”, much less “shaking”.

But The Edge understands that is far from the truth.

Actually, Wahid has been moving things at the government owned and controlled conglomerate quite a bit. This is apart from the recent private placement to raise RM400 million to prevent Renong Bhd from falling into negative shareholders’ funds, an exercise that shook the market and stirred former chairman and substantial minority shareholder Tan Sri Halim Saad into taking a public stand against the placement.

The Edge learns that the group has been organised into seven divisions. The idea is to streamline and reorganise the companies in each division under one listed entity.

Group debt, estimated to be around RM20 billion at the time of the government’s takeover and Wahid’s appointment, has been halved to a little over RM10 billion, mainly through the flotation of highway concessionaire Projek Lebuhraya Utara Selatan Bhd and the return of urban light railway, Projek Usahasama Trasit Ringan Automatik Sdn Bhd, to the government.

True, none of the much ballyhooed and needed (analysts say) asset sales took place. The price or personality was not right.

But The Edge learns that the sale of one Renong company, Crest Petroleum Bhd, is finally moving. And all the approvals are in place for the eventual sale of Commerce Asset-Holding Bhd. That should fetch a rather handy RM1 billion or so when it happens.

And of course, Time dotCom has sold its wireless division to Maxis for cash which will be used to help repay its parent Time Engineering’s debt — some RM1 billion or so, including its US dollar bonds.

Some observers in the know say Wahid’s biggest job is to turn UEM-Renong group into “a professionally run, institutionally owned group” from its former position as an entrepreneur-driven entity.

It may sound easy. But those who would say it’s not rocket science to “sell assets and pay debt” should try doing it themselves. — By Jacqueline Ho

Tan Sri Tajudin Ramli
You gotta hand it to the guy!

When the doomsayers said he should give it up, Tajudin did not just roll over. Instead, he took on Pengurusan Danaharta Nasional to prevent foreclosure of his shares in Technology Resources Industries Bhd (TRI) (now renamed Celcom Malaysia Bhd) and Naluri Bhd.

Whether the former phone magnate had a leg to stand on in court is moot as the national asset management agency operates under an umbrella legislation that provides it legal immunity to carry out its activities.

That was in April.

For most of the first quarter of the year, he was alternately cajoling and fighting the authorities and rallying investor and public support for his massive RM1.8 billion recapitalisation of the cellular company.

And when others might have walked away, Tajudin, it seems, was just warming up. In June, TRI caused quite a stir when it banned Telekom Malaysia’s representatives from attending its AGM. The apparent reason: the proxy forms were not filled in properly.

Maybe so. But it was widely seen as a pre-emptive move to prevent Telekom, by now TRI’s largest single shareholder, from voting Tajudin and his (then) current board out of office at the shareholders’ meeting.

Then, as if to add insult to injury, TRI refused Telekom board representation.

But just when things were getting hysterical, Tajudin and three other TRI directors, including his younger brother Bistamam and long-time associate Datuk Lim Kheng Yew, resigned to make way for Telekom’s entry.

That was in July.

In August came a bombshell — The Edge reported “unauthorised payments” to the former directors, that the cellular company is now seeking repayment of.

September saw the biggest explosion of all — “irregular transactions” to the tune of RM260 million. That finding precipitated a nosedive of TRI’s share price to below RM2. It is believed that Tajudin, Bistamam and Lim have been questioned by the authorities over the irregular transactions.

But Tajudin seems to have sailed through it all but not quite as unscathed as critics would have it. Associates say he is now, once again, “a humble man”… though still not forthcoming with answers on his other company Naluri.

There are strong market rumbles that Tajudin will regain control of the former aviation company with its RM800 million cash hoard from the sale of its stake in Malaysian Airline Systems Bhd last year. — By Jacqueline Ho

Tan Sri Lee Shin Cheng
Lee likes to keep a low profile, he says. But try as he may to keep in the shadows, Lee has spent the better part of the year smack in the middle of media glare. If it was not the protracted saga of the attempted takeover of Palmco Holdings Bhd by Sime Darby Bhd, it was news of Lee’s companies on the acquisition trail.

It started out with IOI Corp Bhd’s acquisition of Loders Croklaan, an edible oils company based in The Netherlands, with businesses that span the globe. The IOI Group had taken the plunge into the cut and thrust world of international big business — no longer an inexperienced maiden.

The reviews were nothing short of great. Analysts gushed. Investors fawned. The company and its patriarch caught the imagination of the public. But Lee declined requests for an interview.

Then came the conclusion of the Palmco saga. The deal was cleverly crafted. IOI retained control of the oleochemicals manufacturer and Sime Darby, the aggressor in 2001, kept a respectable 22 per cent stake in Palmco.

Sime had sold out at RM4.60 a share, a price nobody thought was particularly attractive — neither for Sime nor IOI. But the issue was resolved and it was decided that under the circumstances, it was the best anybody could expect.

And just as the Palmco issue found its resolution, there was a new bit of news for the group. One of its companies had entered a bid for Unilever plc’s plantation land in Sabah and Johor. The price, at RM567 million, was “just about right”, in the words of an analyst.

Despite the just-about-right price tag, there is much excitement that the “Lee touch” will produce the same brand of magic that has seen the IOI group emerge as one of the leading players in the local corporate scene. It is no longer the retiring maiden but a dominant player nobody should make the mistake of underestimating. And the same goes for Lee. — By Leela Barrock

Datuk Dr Jamaludin Jarjis
In the past three years, JJ’s two appointments have raised eyebrows. When he was appointed chairman of Tenaga Nasional in September 2000, some questions were raised on his ability to run the utility giant, given that he was a politician at heart.

His record at Tenaga, nevertheless, has been mixed. The utility’s net profit rose to RM2.1 billion in the financial year ended Aug 31, 2001, but dropped back to RM1.4 billion in financial year 2002.

And since his appointment, Tenaga’s share price has fluctuated between

RM13 and RM8. In 2002, JJ oversaw, among other deals, the issue of US$400 million bonds convertible into stock to refinance some of Tenaga’s debt. The exercise addresses some of Tenaga’s debts, a teething problem for the utility company. There are also lingering concerns on Tenaga acquiring a majority stake in a coal mine in Indonesia.

Then in November came the surprise of sorts. JJ was appointed Second Finance Mminister in an unexpected minor reshuffle of the Cabinet. The elevation is a big move for the MP from Pahang.

Again, the appointment raised some eyebrows. Will the 51-year-old JJ, who is trained as an electrical engineer, continue to hog the limelight like he had in Tenaga? — By Lee Chui Yu

Tan Sri Teh Hong Piow
In the banking industry, Teh hasn’t always been described as innovative or aggressive. He is known more for his prudence and conservatism than anything else. But early November, the Public Bank group said it was merging its commercial banking and finance company operations under one umbrella, resulting in the privatisation of Public Finance. This will be effected through a share-swap exercise, that is, it will issue three new Public Bank shares for every Public Finance share held.

Overall, the deal is well received by analysts — they see value enhancement post- merger. The move is a significant one for the industry. The merger is expected to be followed by others — Malayan Banking and Mayban Finance, for example. — By Anna Taing

Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary
The year 2002 will go down as a watershed year for the media-shy tycoon’s plan to turn Johor into a sea and air cargo transshipment hub. He obtained the green light from the Ministry of Finance to take over Senai Airport from Malaysia Airports and saw the completion of Malaysia Mining Corp’s acquisition of the Port of Tanjung Pelepas (PTP).

With both deals in the bag, the stage is now set for Syed Mokhtar to position Johor to capture overflowing business from the airport and sea port facilities in neighbouring Singapore.

With PTP under MMC’s wing, the port’s future expansion is being taken care of by a set of professional managers. Syed Mokhtar is now likely to focus more energy and attention on turning Senai Airport into a bustling facility.

Another area that will absorb more of his time is electricity generation. SKS Powers Sdn Bhd, a private company linked to Syed Mokhtar, is expected to finalise arrangements to start the RM7 billion Tanjung Bin power project. It is by far the biggest independent power producer (IPP) in the country after the Bakun Hydroelectric Dam.

The year 2002 also saw the 52-year-old Kedah-born businessman venture into publishing by acquiring a 30 per cent stake in MPH Holdings Ltd for RM90 million. The reason for his foray into MPH is related to a social obligation to cultivate the habit of reading in English in rural schools. How he intends to pursue this objective is still not clear.

Much of Syed Mokhtar’s rise is said to be linked to his close ties with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad. The coming year will see a change at the helm of the government but it is not expected to have an impact on Syed Mokhtar.

His plate is already full. In fact, some of his close aides now take pains to disassociate Syed Mokhtar from ventures that he is not involved in. — By M Shanmugam

Datuk Dr Awang Adek
Fondly referred to as Doc during his stint as assistant governor at Bank Negara and director-general of Labuan Offshore Financial Services Authority (Lofsa), Awang left the financial services sector to take up politics last July.

For a brief spell, following his resignation from the central bank, speculation was rife that he would take up a senior post in the Ministry of Finance. But that remained just that — speculation.

At any rate, Awang has done well in politics — he was elected deputy head of the Umno Bachok division by a margin of 150 votes last April.

It came as a surprise then when he was appointed chairman of Tenaga Nasional Bhd last month, taking over from Datuk Dr Jamaludin Jarjis who was made Second Finance Minister.

People who had worked with Awang when he was at the central bank say he was very popular and a good team player. “He was likeable and capable,” says a long-time aide.

The first DG of Lofsa has a lecture series named after him in Labuan and it was during his tenure that eight Bills on Labuan were either passed or amended in Parliament.

Says a close associate: “Awang is highly qualified. He has a PhD in economics, majoring in International Finance at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.”

At Bank Negara, he was regarded as a “performer”. At the age of 41 in 1996, he was made assistant governor, one of the youngest to have made it to that ranking.

Market observers say his strong financial background should stand him in good stead at Tenaga, an index heavyweight which is closely followed by the foreign funds.

But in the corporate arena, Awang is still untested. How he steers the giant utility company and whether he will retain the strategies of his predecessor will, therefore, be closely watched as the next few months unfold. — By Anna Taing

Datuk Steven Tan
Star Publications Bhd is the kind of success story everybody likes to tell: A small town newspaper that went big and conquered the market. And tied in with this story is that of Datuk Steven Tan, its managing director and the man credited for the success of the group in recent years.

The company started out with a single product bearing its name — The Star — a local tabloid that once stood out as the voice of the people, mirroring the popular ideals and sentiment of the time. Today, The Star, observers say, is a far cry from the newspaper of yesteryear. Nevertheless, the company continues to grow from strength to strength commercially.

The Star had become what the industry calls a “mature product”, with little more room to grow its revenue other than to raise advertising rates. Thus, the group’s move to diversify and buy into local radio channel operator Radio Rediffussion Sdn Bhd for RM17 million was seen as a timely move to explore new avenues for growth.

However, the RM27 million venture into Australian college Excel Education announced earlier is still seen as a questionable choice.

The lack of synergy between the group’s existing businesses and the college is one of the reasons for concern.

Tan speaks with caution when he says that moving into radio will be the last “big” investment the group will make in the next five years at least.

“Sometimes we wish they would be more aggressive, but they are still the best media story for investors,” says a media analyst.

Nevertheless, how the company fares in its two new ventures will be watched closely by the market. — By Leela Barrock

Datuk Ismail Shahudin
Given his established track record in the largest bank in the country, most people his age would not want to change careers. But the 51-year-old former executive director of Malayan Banking swapped his comfortable position at the bank for a hot seat at Malaysian Mining Corp in August this year.

MMC is no ordinary company. It is the flagship of Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary, the brightest prospect in the bumiputera corporate sector that has seen an overhaul in the post-1997/98 crisis. Ismail, a professional manager and nominee of Permodalan Nasional Bhd, will oversee a company that has transformed itself into a new corporate animal in less than three years.

From purely a mining company that is asset- and cash-rich, MMC is now into ports, power and engineering, and construction. In the process, it has gone from a net cash to net debt position. What Ismail has done so far for MMC is to plant the trees that will bear fruits for MMC’s coffers in the future.

But it will take time for the trees to mature. The Port of Tanjung Pelepas, MMC biggest investment and beacon of hope, will take at least another 18 months or even more to break even. In the interim, MMC will depend on dividend income from its various investments, including Malakoff Bhd. Managing and sustaining an empire until the transformation is complete will be Ismail’s challenge in the next 12 months. And he can bet that all eyes will be watching every move MMC makes. — By M Shanmugam

Tan Sri William Cheng
Those who know Cheng speak of a man committed to his investors, his businesses and also his creditors. “Cheng would not write off a dollar if he can help it. Nobody should have to take a haircut, that is his philosophy,” says a corporate financier. Lofty ideals that became a tad unrealistic when the Asian contagion brought his family-controlled Lion group of companies to its knees.

The group was saddled with the ignominy of having the largest corporate debt in the country, second only to the Renong group’s. The figure talked about exceeded RM10 billion and extended to over 100 financial institutions. The Corporate Debt Restructuring Committee (CDRC) came into the picture and Cheng had to submit himself to media scrutiny and explain proposed debt restructuring schemes that have yet to be completed. As at press time, the official stand was still that the restructuring was in its last stage. And indeed this time, it appears to be so.

It will be interesting to watch Cheng work his way up again. There are few who would dare to underestimate this man and thus the market is waiting for the recovery story that will follow. And so, we watch Cheng. — By Leela Barrock

Tan Chew Piau
This seasoned contractor may make his re-entry into the corporate sector via the injection of assets into Promet Bhd, provided the listed entity can keep its listing status.

Promet, a company with a deficit in shareholders’ funds, is one of the 24 that have not firmed up a plan to regularise their financial position. It is proposing to acquire Damansara Indah Sdn Bhd, a company that is majority-controlled by Chew Piau and his son Arthur Chen Yi.

The major assets of Damansara Indah are the CP Tower office block and Eastin Hotel along Jalan Damansara. If the deal materialises, it will see the re-emergence of Chew Piau in a listed company. He cashed out of the corporate scene in 1994 following the sale of Chew Piau Bhd to Tan Sri Mohan Swami in 1994.

It is unknown at what price Chew Piau exited. He, however, missed the run-up on the Second Board in 1995/96 when the company’s shares, then re-named CP, rose to RM18 each.

If the corporate exercise is completed, Chew Piau will be making a comeback into the corporate scene after nine years. But it is likely that he will remain a low-key contractor.

The only notable properties he has developed are the CP Tower and Eastin Hotel. Given the current soft property market, Chew Piau will likely remain in a business he knows best. — By M Shanmugam

Datuk Mohamed Moiz JM Ali Moiz
Against all odds, the 41-year-old Moiz completed the deal to take over Bandar Raya Development Corp when it mattered the most.

Moiz, whose uncle is Akhbar Khan Ali Khan, fulfilled his end of the deal to acquire a 32.76 per cent stake in Bandar Raya at RM2.25 a share even though it was trading at about RM1.30 then. The deal was proposed in September 2000 and only completed in October 2002.

When it was first initiated, Bandar Raya was trading at RM2.25 each. When the proposal became a reality, the shares were being traded at RM1.30. Moiz had to go through the deal as he had paid a hefty non-refundable down payment of 35 per cent.

The deal, when completed, will give Moiz his first public listed company. But the downside to the whole episode is that Moiz is sitting on a paper loss of about RM148.3 million. Moiz is said to have refinanced the block of Bandar Raya shares with Trans Pacific Credit Pte Ltd, a Singapore-based company that has a call option on the shares.

Coming from a family that is well-known in real estate, Moiz can be expected to roll up his sleeves and shape up Bandar Raya which has some prime pieces of property in Kuala Lumpur. The company is expected to launch some new projects in the coming year. Bandar Raya also owns Mieco Chipboard, a cash-rich Second Boarder.

Moiz shot to fame in 1999 when his company Effective Capital Sdn Bhd successfully saw the migration of shares in the now-defunct Clob to the KLSE. His partners in Effective Capital included his uncle Akhbar Khan, the man credited with helping Dr Chan Chin Cheung in restructuring the Multi-Purpose Group in 1999. — By M Shanmugam

Ramli Abbas
This former vice-president and country manager of Motorola Malaysia could not have chosen a worse time to emerge at the helm of a public listed company.

He assumed the post of chief executive officer of Celcom, then known as Technology Resources Industries (TRI), in July this year. He had hardly warmed his seat when the company drifted into a state of disarray. Besides a change in the board of directors, there were discrepancies, such as RM259 million worth of false invoices and unauthorised payments to directors.

And what was disturbing was that Celcom was fast losing out to Maxis Communications although it had much better infrastructure.

Ramli’s inter-personal skills and human resource management honed at Motorola will be put to the test at Celcom. He has to beef up the company by providing better services and improving efficiency. It is said that Ramli has personally gone to the ground to check on his staff.

Technology-wise, Celcom has the best infrastructure. Ramli’s 28 years at Motorola will serve him well at Celcom as it copes with its amalgamation with TMTouch and plays catch-up to Maxis. — By M Shanmugam

Datuk Khatijah Ahmad
Datuk Khatijah Ahmad is putting the pieces in place to raise her presence in the domestic financial scene.

As the face of KAF Seagroatt and Campbell Bhd, Khatijah is viewed as a savvy businesswoman and a force to be reckoned with in the stockbroking industry.

Early this year, the KAF group announced a proposal to acquire a 30 per cent stake in Affin Bank, one of the smallest banking groups in the country.

The acquisition is seen as giving Affin a lift in terms of shareholder portfolio and infusing a firm hand in the risk management of the bank. It also offers Khatijah a foothold in the banking industry.

As stockbrokers choose to either position themselves as universal brokers or niche brokers, Khatijah is expected to steer the KAF group into a position where it will be able to enjoy the best of both worlds.

The memorandum of understanding with Affin Bank was signed on Aug 15 and both parties hope to complete the acquisition by the end of 2002. At the time of writing, the deal had yet to be completed. — By Evelyn Fernandez

Datuk Jamaludin Ibrahim
At the risk of sounding biased, one could describe the CEO of Malaysia’s largest cellular company with the “4Cs” — classy, connected, confident and competent. These are the very qualities outsiders reckon tycoon T Ananda Krishnan looks for in his employees.

The US-trained Jamaludin joined Maxis in 1997 after stints with IBM and Digital Equipment. And in the last five years, his personal milestones must surely be presiding (with able lieutenants) over the elevation of Maxis to the top spot in Malaysian cellular communications and its successful flotation this year.

Next year sees Jamaludin moving on to overseeing a difficult process — the integration of Maxis with TimeCel that the former has just bought for RM1.47 billion.

Gleaning through his public comments brings out keywords: consistency and priority.

The region is “interesting”, he is quoted as saying, but Maxis did not, in the end, dive into foreign waters, neither Singapore last year, nor Indonesia this year.

Perhaps he knows where his real “priority” lies — taking the fight to Celcom where “consistency” is key to maintaining Maxis’ headstart. — By Jacqueline Ho

Tan Sri Rashid Hussain
The highlight of the banking sector in 2002 was the controversial merger between RHB Bank and Bank Utama. Locking horns over the on-off-on deal were veteran banker Tan Sri Rashid Hussain and Datuk Seri Sulaiman Taib, perceived as young and untried in the banking world.

The negotiations to conclude the merger took more than a year, and the agreement was finally inked on March 20 this year. Which paved the way for Rashid to exit the country’s third largest banking group he had built over the last 20 years or so. He walks away with a cool RM1 billion, the bulk of which will be used to settle his debts.

The biggest question hanging over Rashid now is whether he will really retire from the local banking scene. Or is it too early to rule him out? Already, rumours abound that he is setting up an investment bank in Labuan.

What he plans to do next will make Rashid a man to watch in 2003. After all, he is only 56 and with his vast experience, track record and business acumen, Rashid still has lots to contribute to the financial services sector. — By Anna Taing

Tan Sri Halim Saad
If 2002 was Tan Sri Tajudin Ramli’s year, then 2001 was definitely Tan Sri Halim Saad’s. The two are widely believed to have been part of a cadre of young-ish bumiputera entrepreneurs nurtured by former finance minister Tun Daim Zainuddin in the 1980s.

Both, and others, including Tan Sri Wan Azmi Wan Hamzah, could do no wrong in the roaring 1990s, when they took the groups they founded, TRI (Tajudin), UEM-Renong (Halim), Land and General (Wan Azmi) to heights undreamt of until then.

All, to a man, were laid low by the Asian financial crisis in the late 1990s. Halim struggled to recapitalise and refocus UEM-Renong but the markets were not in his favour the second time around.

He had been luckier before. But some critics would say he is luckier than he should be. The new management and owners of UEM-Renong, namely the government, do not seem to be as diligent as they could be in pursuing the repayment of Halim’s now infamous put. He had first granted the put in 1998 to allay market ire over UEM purchasing Renong shares, an action that created a frowned-upon cross holding.

Still, Halim felt enough about what he thought was Renong’s irrational private placement of shares to raise RM400 million (which would have diluted his minority shareholding) to come out publicly. In the event, Renong’s proposal passed without undue opposition even as Halim sells shares to “repay debt”, say market sources.

But perhaps the more magnanimous might care to say it is better to say “live and let live”. Halim will turn 50 next year. For half his life, he had worked to build a group of companies which now reach into almost every facet of Malaysian life. UEM-Renong group employs over 40,000 people, has over 500 companies, including 13 listed ones.

Halim also went through a rather messy divorce from his first wife Puan Sri Noraini Zolkifli in the late 1990s but seems to have rebuilt his personal life with his second wife Shaesta Said, a niece of entrepreneur Akbar Khan Ali Khan.

By all accounts, the man is also rebuilding his business. He is said to be eyeing real estate in India, among other ventures.

His Mid Valley Megamall office is more spacious and airy than his formerly cramped space in the MACOBA building in Jalan Syed Putra, though not quite what one could call “luxurious”.

And though he may be in the midst of reinventing himself, like Tajudin, unlike Tajudin, Halim has never been known to be “a humble man”. — By Jacqueline Ho

Yusof Abu Othman
Yusof has taken on the role of the underdog. But in this case, he is the underdog with big teeth.

Yusof is chief executive officer of the Minority Shareholders Watchdog Group (MSWG), which has as its founding members the biggest five institutional investors in the country — the Employees Provident Fund (EPF), Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB), Lembaga Tabung Angkatan Tentera (LTAT), Lembaga Tabung Haji and Pertubuhan Keselamatan Sosial (Socso).

When MSWG was granted its advisory licence by the Securities Commission earlier this year, there were many who wondered whether or not the grouping would be effective at all. Minority interests had for the longest time appeared to be nothing more than rhetoric whipped out at appropriate times and given a good dusting off.

However over the year, the watchdog has made its presence felt when corporate exercises appeared questionable. The latest instance was the attempted acquisition of a 32 per cent stake in Malaysian Merchant Marine by Maruichi Malaysia Steel Tube for RM99 million. The MSWG played a leading role in raising its discomfiture with the deal.

“We will have to watch the watchdog, going ahead,” quips an observer. And as its designated leader, Yusof will be the man to watch. — By Leela Barrock

Datuk Dr Mohd Munir Abdul Majid
Yet another mercurial personality, presently reinventing himself for the fourth time — this time as a communications major, first as a director of Telekom Malaysia in 2000, then in July this year as chairman of Celcom Malaysia.

The good doctor had started working life as a research analyst with Daiwa Securities in London in the 1970s before returning home to join the New Straits Times as a leader writer in 1979.

Clearly one on the fast track, Munir rose to be group editor in 1982 and group editor-in-chief in 1985 till he left just one year later to join CIMB as CEO and executive chairman.

Most will remember him as the first chairman of the Securities Commission, a post he held from 1993 to 1999.

Munir led the Telekom vanguard into Celcom in the celebrated tussle for the cellular company earlier this year and also helped to put in place a new management team.

He is believed to have various interests, business and academic, overseas. He was also rumoured over the past two years to be interested in forming a converged media entity, a suggestion he has neither confirmed nor denied.

It would be interesting to watch this space. — By Jacqueline Ho

Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay
Lim is a “Man to Watch”. Not because of his recent purchase of a 5.0 per cent stake in Mycom — a Practice Note 4 outfit — but because of his being “officially” handed the baton of Genting and Resorts World last November. He takes over the high-profile posts of president and chief executive officer in both companies from 85-year- old patriarch Tan Sri Lim Goh Tong, who is retiring from active management.

It is not surprising that Kok Thay — the second son in the family — was handpicked to succeed the elder Lim as he has been running the show at both Genting and Resorts World for many years as managing director. He is credited with modernising the resort at Genting Highlands with theme parks and top-class entertainment facilities and is perhaps most recognised for having pushed for the setting-up of a cruise liner business in the early 1990s. Star Cruises was hence started as a family investment and injected into Resorts World in 1998.

Observers say Star Cruises represens Kok Thay’s ambition to move the family business empire onto the international stage as Genting’s casino and resort businesses in the country reach maturity.

But the cruise line operator has yet to exert a positive influence on Resorts World and there is some concern that it had been relying on its rich parent company for needed cash flow. A rights issue by the Hong Kong-listed Star Cruises was duly subscribed for by Resorts World.

Nonetheless, as Kok Thay tests his mettle with Star Cruises, all eyes are on how the new successor propels the Lim family onto the next stage. While he has not created ripples on the home front, Kok Thay is already a member of Asia’s business elite. — By Siow Chen Ming



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