Saturday 8 June 2013

The fall of Ekran and Ting Pek Khiing

On Anil Netto's website there is an article (mostly taken from The Edge Malaysia) titled:

"Curse of Bakun: The fall and fall of Ting Pek Khiing"

It describes one of the more infamous episodes in the history of Malaysian listed company Ekran, and its tycoon Ting Pek Khiing.

Unfortunately, not much attention in the article for the rights issue of Ekran and the fact that "Ting took some RM712.9mil from the company as an advance in return for the injection of some of his private assets in 1996/97. The amount has been long overdue – for more than 10 years."

The last quote can be found at the website of The Star, aptly called "The lack of deterrent sentencing" (Malaysia's perennial problem, especially when VIP's are involved).

"In November 2009, Tan Sri Ting Pek Khiing and six other directors of Ekran were handed total fines of RM630,000 for breaching Bursa Malaysia’s listing requirements pertaining to a related-party transaction. The penalty for Ting, the company’s executive chairman, was RM500,000. Four directors were fined RM25,000 each and the remaining two RM15,000 each. The breaches relate to the company’s failure to disclose the change in the terms of Ting’s settlement of the remaining amount owing to Ekran."

Besides the above breach (for which a fine was given less than 1/1000th of the amount of money involved, hence the title of the article in The Star), the important question is: "was the above transaction (paying RM 713 million for some of Ting's assets in the midst of the Asian crisis when the prices of assets were literally falling of a cliff) really in the best interest of the company?". I very strongly doubt it. Was ever anyone punished for that? Not that I am aware of.

Ting failed to settle the outstanding debt for a dozen years. Interestingly enough, at one moment he offered to settle part of the debt with a piece of land which was 90% under water:

Ekran was delisted in 2010. As The Edge reports, the minority shareholders are the ultimate losers. After becoming delisted it will be even more difficult for them to keep track of the company's financial conditions, including debt collection (from Ting), let alone recoup their investment losses.

Shareholders of other companies linked to Ting (like Wembley Industries, Granite Industries, PWE Industries) have not fared much better.

Ting was declared a bankrupt but according to this Focus Malaysia article that has not had much impact on him:

"Life is good to Tan Sri Ting Pek Khiing, 68. The former tycoon is seen in luxury vehicles, dining in fancy restaurants and posh hotels, attending boardroom meetings and is still very much in the news. The former developer of the Bakun Dam, via Ekran Bhd, was declared a bankrupt on Oct 28, 2010 by the Kuala Lumpur High Court. He appears to have not lost his social standing, hosting the Sarawak Yang di-Pertua Negeri at his family home during the recent Chinese New Year celebrations. So it is not Ting’s seemingly good life that is called to question, but whether he is functioning within the parameters of a bankrupt, reports Joseph Wong."

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