Najib questions reason for changing valuers of TH Plantations

Former prime minister Najib Razak says TH Plantations Berhad’s valuer had always been CH Williams, Talhar & Wong, which he said was an established name.

PETALING JAYA: Former prime minister Najib Razak has questioned why the Pakatan Harapan government decided to change the valuers for TH Plantations Berhad (THP), the plantation arm of Lembaga Tabung Haji.

He said this had caused the value of assets to drop.

Najib said THP’s valuer had always been CH Williams, Talhar & Wong Sdn Bhd, which he said was an established name.

He said the new valuers, whom he did not identify in a posting on Facebook today, had increased the discounted cash flow (DCF) rate for asset valuation from 9% to 14%.

“Anyone who has studied accounts will know that this discount rate is usually slightly higher than the bank interest rate (6%). The higher the discount rate, the lower the value of the asset,” he wrote.

Furthermore, Najib said it is not stated why the discount rate used in the asset valuation was increased from 9% to 14%.

Due to the change of valuers and assumptions used to evaluate the assets, he said the value of the plantations in the THP’s 2018 annual report fell from RM366.5 million to RM122.4 million.

Najib, who was also the former finance minister, was replying to Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mujahid Yusof Rawa who had announced a recent decision to sell 14 of its subsidiaries with total plantation land of 76,975ha.

Mujahid said he was surprised that Najib raised the issue of the land sale by THP, stating that the more important question would be to ask why the land was purchased in the first place.

Mujahid said Umno Youth chief Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki was welcome to lodge any report to the police or the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission on the matter if he had solid evidence of any wrongdoing.

Mujahid said Tabung Haji owned 72% shares in THP and he had never intervened in any sale of THP subsidiaries.

“This is because I have great confidence that the new management of THP will be able to save the company from suffering further losses,” he said in a statement.

Najib claimed THP had approved the sale of 14 subsidiaries, representing 76.2% of their total land area.

“To date, three of the 14 companies have been sold. The sale of the others is just waiting to be announced,” Najib further said.

He said the first sale of two of the 14 companies was completed last Dec 5.

THP recorded a loss with this sale as the sale price was lower than the purchase price in 2013, Najib said.

Najib said the company had the potential to produce RM80.2 million worth of fresh fruit bunches of oil palm a year. However, it was sold for RM170 million at a time when the oil palm price was recovering and production was on the rise.

Due to this, he asked Mujahid if the purchase in 2013 at 37.6 cents per square foot was costly and if the well-known valuer CH Williams had wrongly valued the land at that time.

“Why was the valuer changed?

“If THP was under financial pressure when palm oil prices were low, why didn’t Tabung Haji, as the biggest lender to THP, or the finance ministry help THP?” he asked, pointing out that the BN government had helped ailing private companies like DRB-Hicom before this.