Syed Mokhtar Al Bukhary is well known in corporate circles. His name has never failed to surface whenever the list of Malaysia's richest is complied. Year after year, his name appears as the top Malay Malaysian. His assets and business interests are wide ranging.
Malays generally take pride in his achievements. Political leaders are especially fond of mentioning his name and associating with him adds prestige. He is also well known for Islamic projects.
He seems to have every finger in all sorts of economic pie. I suppose if he runs out of fingers, every toe counts too.
At one time, he even asked Dr Mahathir to appoint him as UMNO treasurer. Is the post of UMNO treasurer a gateway to a more fabled kingdom or what?
In Johore, his business interests are extensive. He has interests in water supply in Johore. He has ports. He has airports. He has interests in the supply of military hardware. He owns 51.8% share in Malaysian Mining Corporation via his wholly-owned company, Syarikat Impian Teladan Sdn. Bhd. Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar and his partner Zainal Hatim personally owns SKS Ventures, which was awarded the task of building the site for 2100MW coal-fired power station at Tanjung Bin, Johor.
Tan Sri Syed Mohktar has a 32% share in PERNAS through his own company, Syarikat Ratu Jernih. Syarikat Perdana Padu Sdn. Bhd. and Corak Kukuh Sdn. Bhd. Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar and Zainal are Board Members of Syarikat Bina Puri Holdings Berhad, whereby, on his own, he has 7.34% share. Apart from these, Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar and Zainal has varied interest in a number of companies, both in Malaysia as well as abroad.
How can one Bumi get all these? He is the Superbumi that I mentioned sometime back. How can one person corner the resources? Once he has all these must he be given some more? Are Malaysian Malays that stupid so as to depend on one individual to carry the name of the Malays? To prove to others, Malays have business acumen?
This is the flaw in the reward system that I have written before. We don't have a reward system that compensates the industrious and the clever people. Syed Mokhtar is without doubt very industrious, but we cannot be expected to believe that among 17 Million Malays, only Syed mokhtar has the smarts?
Pernas which was formed by Tengku Razaleigh a long time ago, had shares divested to well connected people. I mentioned this because TRH's name has now become prominent. Lets substantiate that prominence by mentioning what he has done before that is different from his successors. In this way, we can differentiate prudent business management as opposed to most favoured man for business opportunities method. The main difference being, when Pernas took over business interests from foreign entities, the resources were owned by Pernas for the benefit of many. That changed when Pernas which later became successful offered shortcuts to well connected people to become rich instantly.
The other difference being, TRH wasn't interested to designate any particular individuals as the driving force to represent Malay economic interests. When that happens, only that particular Malay becomes rich. The others have their interests taken away. In other words, TRH didn't practice crony capitalism.
Now he has offered to buy UEM. I was listening to a doctorate holder of a researcher saying glowing things about Syed Mokhtar's business entities. He was talking about the value of his assets and the track record of this Syed. But what is his net worth now? what is his loan exposure. I am sure the researcher went on air prepared.
But here is an interesting counter point. The Malaysian Business magazine last year estimated that Syed Mokhtar is worth some US$1.8 billion (RM5.58 billion) with his shareholdings in several listed companies. He has a loan rumoured to be RM 26 billion. So how?
The banks who lent money to him, should come out to say how much this man has borrowed because the financial exposure of one person who is highly geared can lead to the implosion of our financial system,. The banks need to clear the rumours swirling in the market that Syed MOkhtar or his companies have debts to the tune of RM26 billion. Also, is it true that one bank lent Syed MOkhtar RM 6 billion? If it did, then maybe it has flouted the client limit requirement which banks observed.
If Syed Mokhtar has offered RM 15.6 billion for UEM probably with an eye on acquiring the Plus highways, how does this offer compare to Asas Serba's offer of RM 50 billion? When the later amount was announced, Nor Mohamad Yaakob doused that offer by saying the Plus highway business had cost the government over RM 200 billion. So, now, why should the government even consider a paltry amount of RM 15 billion? And why is Nor Mohamad Yakob silent on this offer by Syed MOkhtar?
Something is not right here. Unless of course, Syed MOkhtar has strong supporters behind him. If Syed MOkhtar has a loan exposure of RM 26 billion, will he be able to raise the funding to actually buy UEM? And if he has to rope in the EPF to become his partner, the government might as well invite EPF alone to make an offer to Khazanah.
We are tired of the government playing pass the baton. It says it will not interfere with Khazanah's call if the latter decides it wants to sell. But the CEO of Khazanah, Azman Mokhtar said this:-
that the public should also keep in mind that the cash generating Plus highway concessionaire is "owned by everyone" by virtue of its ownership under Khazanah. "There is the status quo option that everyone should consider," said Azman. "Plus is a national asset that is well managed." the decision "shouldn't take too long" and said that it wasn't Khazanah's decision alone but it would involve the government which was mindful of the need to moderate the affordability of toll rates.
I like lah, this pious response.
courtesy of sakmongkol47