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Monday, November 20, 2023

PDC amends offer letters to avoid repeat of Byram land sale fiasco


Penang chief minister Chow Kon Yeow said PDC’s initial land sale to Umech Land Sdn Bhd had been carried out in accordance with ongstanding practices.

GEORGE TOWN: The Penang Development Corporation (PDC) has amended all offer letters to include a clause on changes in a company’s shareholding before an agreement is signed, the state assembly was told today.

Chief minister Chow Kon Yeow said the measure was taken to prevent suspension of land sales, such as that with Umech Land Sdn Bhd in Byram, because of last-minute changes in the company’s ownership.

Chow also said there were no procedural flaws in PDC’s initial agreement with Umech Land, as it was done in accordance with the state’s longstanding practices through open tenders, requests for proposal, and direct tenders.

He reiterated that Umech Land was selected after a long process, based on the discretion given to PDC.

“However, the change in share ownership by Umech Land, which happened before the signing of the (agreement), was something that had happened for the first time, with no notification given by Umech Land to PDC.

“To prevent the same from repeating, PDC has immediately amended all offer letters by adding a clause related to changes in a company’s share ownership before a deal is signed,” he said.

Lee Khai Loon (PH-Machang Bubuk) had asked Chow to state the flaws or errors in the Byram land sale process and the measures taken to address this issue.

Property developer Sunway Group had announced on Sept 27 that Umech Land and PDC had inked a joint development agreement to turn 226.2ha in Batu Kawan into an industrial park with a gross development value of about RM3.5 billion.

Just two days before this announcement, Sunway had emerged as a majority shareholder (70%) in Umech Land via its wholly owned subsidiary, Sunway Bukit Gambier Sdn Bhd.

On Oct 17, the state government called off the Byram land sale to Umech following the change in shareholding.

The acquisition had reduced the stakes of Umech Land’s two other shareholders, Karen Cheng and Nathaniel Rajakumar, to 21% and 9%, respectively. Previously, they held 70% and 30% interest in Umech Land. - FMT

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