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Thursday, January 15, 2009

TA Ent on lookout for distressed assets

MALAYSIAN financial-to-property group TA Enterprise is still in talks to place shares of its TA Global unit despite weak markets, and is also looking to buy distressed property assets overseas, its deputy chief executive said.

“We are currently talking to underwriters for the placement of our (TA Global) shares and exploring the best way to structure the IPO so that the market will be able to absorb the listing,” Deputy CEO Tiah Joo Kim said today.

“In the event we do have to delay the IPO due to whatever reasons, we can always apply for an extension,” Tiah said in an email interview to Reuters.

TA Enterprise said last September it would spin off its property assets for a separate listing on the local bourse.
The property business will be housed under TA Global, a newly formed company to facilitate the listing. TA Enterprise, which houses the stockbroking and unit trust businesses, will remain listed on the exchange.

Tiah said TA is still on the lookout to buy more property assets after a string of acquisitions last year.

TA Enterprise’s cash and short-term investments stood at RM822.8 million (US$230.5 million) by the end of October, according to Thomson Reuters data.

“The current economic downturn presents many great opportunities to acquire assets. We are on the lookout to acquire prime assets that are undervalued or distressed,” said Tiah.

But the company will focus on markets outside Malaysia such as the hospitality industry in Australia, Canada and Hong Kong.

“Local property prices haven’t fallen enough to excite us, Tiah added.

The company’s earnings are unlikely to fall this year despite a weak operating environment, he said.

By Reuters

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