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Friday, February 6, 2009

Raw deal for IOI Prop’s minority shareholders

PETALING JAYA: There is little doubt about IOI Corp Bhd’s Tan Sri Lee Shin Cheng’s ability to seize an opportunity when he sees it.

The plantation group’s executive chairman and CEO’s move to buy out its property arm may not surprise many, but some analysts feel IOI Properties Bhd’s minority shareholders deserve a better deal.

“We advise investors to sell the stock (IOI Prop) into strength,’’ CIMB Research said in a note to clients yesterday. The firm was “not keen” to swap IOI Prop’s shares for IOI Corp, but noted that the “alternative may be even less palatable.’’

IOI Corp late Wednesday offered to buy the remaining 199.7 million shares from IOI Prop minority shareholders at 0.6 share in IOI Corp at market price plus 33 sen cash per IOI Prop share.

This means that the offer price will fluctuate with IOI Corp’s share price movement. Shares in IOI Corp plunged 24 sen yesterday to RM3.68, while IOI Prop shot up 27 sen to RM2.49.

CIMB has a target price of RM3.20 for IOI Corp.

It opined that IOI Corp was “overvalued” at Wednesday’s closing price of RM3.92. It also argued that based on CIMB’s target price, the offer would equal RM1.92 worth of IOI Corp’s share plus 33 sen cash.

This works out to RM2.25 per IOI Prop share.

Maybank Investment Bank analyst Ong Chee Ting believed IOI Corp risked “low take-up rate” for its offer. Ong has a target price of RM2.90 for IOI Corp.

“Although it is unlikely to go down well with IOI Prop’s minority shareholders, the delisting would encouraged them to sell’’ as they won’t risk holding shares in an unlisted company, he said.

The deal breaker, however, are the government-linked funds Valuecap, Permodalan Nasional Bhd and the Employees Provident Fund, which collectively hold an estimated 10% stake in IOI Prop.

“If they act in concert and reject the offer, IOI Corp won’t be able to get the 90% acceptance,’’ said Tan Ting Min, an analyst at Credit Suisse Securities Malaysia wrote in a note yesterday.

He believed, however, that the market would see the privitisation as “marginally positive” for IOI Corp as it was value enhancing.

Credit Suisse upped its target price for IOI Corp from RM3.27 to RM3.31 yesterday.

IOI Corp needs to increase its stake in IOI Prop to above 90% to take the company private. Even if it failed to get the required number, IOI Corp said on Wednesday, it intended to take the requisite steps to delist IOI Prop from Bursa Malaysia.

“We believe the offer is fair, if not favourable, bearing in mind that IOI Prop may need to provide for impairment charges for its Sentosa Cove projects (in Singapore).’’ HwangDBS Vickers Research said in a report yesterday.

Based on Bloomberg’s consensus estimates, the IOI Corp offer was 36% below IOI Prop’s book value of RM3.63 and valued the company 8.9 times its forecast earnings for the year ending June 30, 2009.

Historical data showed that IOI Prop shares had been consistently traded above its book value since early 2000 until the middle of last year when equity prices worldwide collapsed.

“We lament the privatisation or delisting of IOI Prop as the company is one of the largest and most profitable developers in Malaysia and has been a benchmark and role model to many,’’ CIMB said.

The firm said IOI Prop’s revised net asset value stood at RM6.15 per share, or RM5.2bil. At yesterday’s close, its market value was RM2.07bil.

If the deal goes through, IOI Corp will fork out about RM64mil cash and issue some 116.9 million new shares at market price for the additional 24% stake in IOI Prop.

The deal, pending approvals from shareholders of both companies, is targeted for completion by end-June.

By The Star (by Izwan Idris)

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