PETALING JAYA: The proposed disposal of a 33% stake in Boustead Plantations Bhd (BPlant) by the Armed Forces Fund Board (LTAT), which has been mired in controversy recently, is no closer to completion after the cut-off date for the deal was extended for the second time.
Kuala Lumpur Kepong Bhd (KLK), which is acquiring the stake from LTAT and Boustead Holdings Bhd (BHB), said the three parties agreed to a two-week extension for the cut-off date to Oct 6. The first extension, announced on Sept 11, ended today.
“The company (KLK) has entered into a second letter of agreement with BHB and LTAT to agree for the cut-off date to be Oct 6, 2023 or such other date as may be agreed in writing between KLK, BHB and LTAT,” KLK said in a filing with Bursa Malaysia today.
It added all the other provisions contained in the strategic collaboration agreement will remain unchanged. On Aug 24, KLK announced a plan to acquire a 33% stake plus one share in BPlant, buying the shares from LTAT and its recently privatised subsidiary BHB.
KLK will pay RM1.55 per share or RM1.15 billion in cash to LTAT and BHB, valuing BPlant at RM3.47 billion. KLK will then undertake a mandatory general offer, and subsequently take BPlant private.
The plan is for KLK to own 65% of BPlant, while LTAT and BHB control the remaining 35%.
Opposition opposes the deal
However, what was initially presumed to be a straightforward commercial transaction has run into obstacles as politicians weighed in on the deal.
Last week, Bersatu Youth chief Wan Ahmad Fayhsal Wan Ahmad Kamal questioned the sale of the stake to KLK during a debate in Parliament.
He asked why the shares were not sold to Sime Darby Bhd or Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB) if the government was committed to empowering “Bumiputera equity ownership”.
In response, defence minister Mohamad Hasan said LTAT had invited 15 plantation-linked companies for the competitive bidding process, including Sime Darby Plantations Bhd, Tabung Haji, Tradewinds Corp, and FGV Holdings Bhd.
The only Bumiputera company that submitted a bid was Tradewinds, which is controlled by tycoon Syed Mokhtar Albukhary. However, its bid was too low, he told the Dewan Rakyat on Sept 18.
Meanwhile, former Umno information chief Shahril Hamdan said today the proposed sale of the BPlant stake should not be politicised.
He said the responsibility of LTAT is to ensure the best returns for its members and that other considerations should be secondary.
Shahril, who was suspended for six years by Umno last January, said the deal already met the criteria set by LTAT’s investment arm after going through a competitive bidding process.
BPlant’s shares closed unchanged at RM1.49, valuing the group at RM3.34 billion. KLK’s shares were up eight sen or 0.4% to RM21.38, giving the group a market capitalisation of RM23.1 billion.