Sunday, 19 February 2012

PMI: more questions than answers

PMI published its offer document for the take-over offer. To recap, the joint offerors, companies controlled by Khoo Kay Peng, offer RM 0.045 per PMI share, which must be one of the lowest offers ever recorded on Bursa Malaysia.

More information can be found here:

The offer document does not answer issues raised, and even adds some more. These kind of documents are supposed to deal with important issues, but in Malaysia they are very good in avoiding them.

[1] The main issue is that the offerors bought their shares from (primarily) the Hope Foundation, and that this price is used for the price offered to the minority investors. But the Hope Foundation seems to be connected to the offeror, there are many indications to be found on the internet, for instance in an article in "Malaysian Business", the previous name was even "MUI Foundation" and the shares it traded in where all connected to the offeror. But if this is indeed the case (and it seems to be very likely), then that means there is a huge conflict of interest, it would be in the interest of the joint offerors to make an offer as low as possible to the Hope Foundation, instead of an arms length offer. It would also explain why a large shareholder (Hope Foundation) would sell its shares for about the lowest price ever. Although this issue seems to be obvious, and the authorities are aware of it, it is never raised in the offer document, not even once. There is simply no mentioning at all of the Hope Foundation.

Here is a link from the website of Raja Petra, also about the Hope Foundation (I haven't been able to check the accuracy of the rather wild allegations though):

[2] Investors who sold their PMI shares on August 24th or 25th for RM 0.040 will get half a cent extra per share, since the offer was already unconditional on August 24th. A pretty straight forward ruling, the announcement regarding the offer on August 26th was simply two days too late. The Securities Commission made this ruling on October 7th (good and fast action, I have to admit), PMI objected on October 10th (rather strange, it looks very clear that rules have been breached) and the SC overruled the objection. All correct, but why did the SC suddenly need 3.5 months to reach this conclusion, when their first ruling took less than two weeks? Because of this the whole process is hugely delayed. The impact will be very small, most trades on those two days were anyhow done at RM 0.045, investors have to reclaim their money if they made any on RM 0.040 and some will even have forgotten that they sold their shares those days. The total impact will be a few Thousand Ringgit at most. The delay by the SC is puzzling.

[3] The independent advisor will be Hwang-DBS. This company did another independent advice for the same offeror, more details can be found here:

In my opinion, both that Related Party Transaction between PMCorp and MUI and the independent report were the worst in Malaysia in the last 10 years, and that says a lot. Hwang-DBS is never punished in any way, shape or form (the authorities are aware about the horrific details of this deal but apparently are unwilling to take any action, for reasons only they know best). But to allow this same company to do another independent advice for the same major shareholder is pretty unbelievable.

[4] There is no mentioning at all in the document of the last Rights Issue by PMI and the projections done there. Interestingly, in that brochure PMI was projected to have losses in 2009, 2010 and 2011 (which is what happened), but to deliver profits from 2012 onwards. Why would shareholders accept a low offer just when profits are projected to kick in? At the very least there should be an update on these projections.

[5] There is no detailed discussion about the assets of PMI, mainly a building, a piece of land and shares in MUI: is there a way to unlock value, can or will they be revalued, etc.

[6] What is interesting (and this is almost completely ignored in the report) is that PMI is trading above the offer price, the last closing price is RM 0.06, 33% above the offer price. Since February 8, 2012 all transactions have been higher than the offered price.

It must be noted that quite a few breaches of rules by PMI have occurred (together with many Corporate Governance issues), but that so far nobody received even as much as a reprimand.

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