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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Gamuda mulls share buyback as market value plummets

GAMUDA Bhd, the country's second biggest builder, may buy its own shares after the company lost nearly RM2.6 billion in market value over the past six trading days.

"We are weighing our options," a Gamuda official said in a telephone conversation recently.

Gamuda has not started buying back its shares, it said in an e-mail reply to Business Times.

Last year, Gamuda's shareholders approved a share buyback plan. It could buy up to a tenth of its shares or spend not more than its retained profits.

As at August 2006, Gamuda had retained profits of RM1.15 billion.

Gamuda closed 20 sen higher at RM3.80 yesterday after DBS Vickers changed its recommendation on the stock to "buy" from "hold".

But DBS Vickers slashed its share price target from RM5 to RM4.50.

However, the single largest shareholder continued to buy more shares.

FMR LLC & Fidelity International Ltd yesterday said it bought 40,300 Gamuda shares last week, bringing its shareholding to 11.87 per cent.

The builder has been under siege since last week, after its group managing director for the past 26 years, revealed last week that he is no longer a substantial shareholder.

Datuk Lin Yun Ling sold 70 million Gamuda shares, paring his stake in the company to 1.73 per cent from 5.23 per cent before.

Following the sale, JPMorgan which said in a report that Gamuda is "a ship without rudders", cut its share price target to RM3.3O, branding it "a top stock to avoid in 2008".

By New Straits Times (by Francis Fernandez)

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