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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

UEM Land extends reach

Kuala Lumpur: UEM Land Bhd, which will be listed on Bursa Malaysia by November, will expand its landbank via acquistions beyond Nusajaya to other parts of the country and offshore.

Even parcels of land within the UEM group would be hived off to UEM Land in due time and details spelt out in its prospectus, said UEM World Bhd chairman Tan Sri Dr Ahmad Tajuddin Ali at the company EGM yesterday. UEM Land is subsidiary of UEM World.

Datuk Ahmad Pardas Senin

Whether the name UEM Land would be retained is unclear but landbank expansion is a vital component of its future growth.

UEM World managing director/chief executive officer Datuk Ahmad Pardas Senin said the company was in discussions with several parties including from Vietnam, India and the Gulf States.

“The intention is to diversify beyond Nusajaya and we do not preclude acquiring new landbank here and overseas if it suits our business expansion,” he said, adding that the landbank within the UEM group was small in comparison to Nusajaya’s over 10,000 acres.

Asked if UEM Land had funds to expand its landbank, Pardas said “it may not have the cash but we have the capacity to borrow”.

Yesterday, UEM World shareholders approved the proposed restructuring of the group which entails the delisting of UEM World and listing of UEM Land.

In February, UEM group announced its group-wide restructuring exercise where UEM World will distribute all its shares in four listed companies to its shareholders and UEM Land will take over its listing status.

The four companies are UEM Builders Bhd, Pharmaniaga Bhd, Opus Group Bhd and Cement Industries Malaysia Bhd.

Pardas said it was still unclear at this point whether UEM Builders or one of the other three companies would be delisted as the restructuring process was still ongoing.

“It depends on whether UEM shareholders take up the restricted offer for sale and whether such an exercise will trigger a mandatory general offer (MGO). In the case of Pharmaniaga, the MGO has been triggered. Our intention is to keep the companies listed,” he said.

On the second Penang bridge, Pardas said UEM group had not been “officially notified of any change” by the government of its contract even though UEM Builders had been awarded a contract with scope of works overlapping.

Initially the concession and privatisation of the bridge was given to UEM group and the project was to be undertaken on a build-operate-transfer basis.

“We are already doing work on the project and have spent RM200mil thus far. We will continue to do so until we are told otherwise,” Pardas said.

Asked if PLUS Expressways Bhd would be seeking compensation if there were a review in toll rates, Pardas said it was up to the government to decide on the review but there was provision in the agreement for compensation.

By The Star

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