CIMB chairperson Nazir Abdul Razak says Felda, set up by his father Abdul Razak Hussein when he was prime minister, should justify its planned purchase of a 37 percent stake in PT Eagle High Plantations Tbk.
Felda announced the planned acquisition in the plantation unit of Indonesian conglomerate Rajawali Group after a failed attempt by Felda Global Ventures (FGV) to purchase the same stake.
FGV, a company listed on Bursa Malaysia, was criticised by shareholders when it proposed to purchase a 37 percent stake in PT Eagle High Plantations Tbk for US$680 million.
Among the critics was Employees Provident Fund (EPF), which had since offloaded all of its shares in FGV.
Felda, unlike FGV, is not a public-listed company and is owned by the government. Felda owns a 21 percent stake in FGV.
Nazir in an Instagram posting noted that Felda was still paying a premium despite the offer of US$505 million for the 37 percent stake (580 rupiah per share) US$175 million less than FGV's offer.
"Eagle High's average price in November was 212 rupiah per share, so it's a 173 percent premium for a non-controlling stake.
"I hope the board will fully justify the acquisition and valuation even though the deal is no longer made by listed FGV," he said.
Nazir also shared an photograph of his father delivering a speech to Felda settlers in Kuala Terengganu on March 28, 1966.
Meanwhile, Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs chief executive Wan Saiful Wan Jan said the deal could be a good opportunity for Felda to grow its business if it was struck at the right price.
However, he expressed concern about the risks to taxpayers as Felda is a government-linked company.
"It would be unacceptable if the deal results in taxpayers assuming the risk entered into by Felda or if the deal turns out to be a bad one.
"If the risk to taxpayers can be managed, then I hope the deal will create the synergy that Felda wants and that it will create greater shareholder value," he said.
Wan Saiful added that it was "mysterious" how better shareholder value could be achieved when it looked like Felda was paying a "very high price" for Eangle High's shares.
"Felda has to answer why they agreed to this high premium.
"There is already a lot of questions about the deal and this premium adds to the negative speculation about it," he said.- Mkini