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Thursday, February 14, 2008

UEM World to unveil corporate exercise

UEM World Bhd, a diversified company 51.9 per cent-owned by Khazanah Nasional Bhd, will on Friday unveil a corporate exercise that will lead to a significant change in its business direction.

It told the stock exchange yesterday that the exercise would also involve four of its listed units, namely UEM Builders, Opus Group, Pharmaniaga and Cement Industries of Malaysia Bhd (CIMA).

It has controlling stakes in all four companies.

Some analysts speculated that the exercise may involve an asset swap between the UEM World and Khazanah, while others said UEM World may be looking to dispose of non-core assets so that it emerges as a pure property developer.

UEM World oversees Malaysia's biggest property project, the 9,712-hectare Nusajaya development in Johor.

"They may be looking to sell non-core assets to raise cashflow for the Nusajaya development," an analyst with a foreign research firm said.

There were also some analysts who suspect that UEM World's listed units may be privatised.

"Whatever the exercise, Khazanah will typically be looking to extract value from the companies," said Colbert Nocom, head of research at UBS Securities. He noted that all five of the companies are undervalued.

Trading in shares of all the companies have been halted since the afternoon session yesterday, pending the announcement. They will resume trade next week.

UEM World last traded 3 per cent higher to RM4.12; UEM Builder 1.6 per cent higher to RM1.26; Opus 3 per cent up to 86 sen; CIMA 3.7 per cent higher to RM5.60 and Pharmaniaga, 21.9 per cent up to RM3.78.

By New Straits Times (by Adeline Paul Raj)

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