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Thursday, December 24, 2009

CEO: PNB skyscraper study in advanced stages

KUALA LUMPUR: Permodalan Nasional Bhd’s (PNB) study of a proposal for a multi-storey building here is in “advanced stages,” according to president and group chief executive Tan Sri Hamad Kama Piah Che Othman.

However, he neither confirmed nor denied that the building would be a 100-storey skycraper.

Tun Ahmad Sarji Abdul Hamid (left) and Tan Sri Hamad Kama Piah Che Othman announcing the income distribution.

“Whatever assets we have, we need to do a proper study to ensure that the returns we achieve will be beneficial for our shareholders. The study (for the building) is in advanced stages.

“I’m not saying it will be 100 storeys, but we are going to develop something,” he told reporters after announcing the income distribution for its Amanah Saham Nasional (ASN) fund yesterday.

Hamad Kama Piah declined to comment on whether the evaluation was being undertaken by local or foreign consultants. The building is expected to be developed near Stadium Merdeka and Stadium Negara.

On the reason for the proposed development, he said: “We want to improve our returns. If you just rely on equity and the stock market – there are too many ups and downs. Through this diversification, it helps to improve our returns.”

On another note, Hamad Kama Piah confirmed that PNB had purchased the 22-storey Kenanga International Building in Kuala Lumpur from Injaz AsiaEquity Property but declined to verify that the purchase cost the company RM250mil.

He also said PNB was looking at the possibility of listing its property assets, namely Island & Peninsular Bhd, Pelangi Bhd and Petaling Garden Bhd. “It will depend on whether it would benefit our shareholders and if the timing is right.”

Asked on the progress of PNB’s 10 billion-unit Amanah Saham 1Malaysia (AS1M) fund, he said 2.96 billion units had been subscribed by 235,032 investors since its launch on July 31.

Subscription of the AS1M units is subject to an allocation of 50% for bumiputras, 30% for Chinese, 15% for Indians and the remainder for other minority groups.

Hamad Kama Piah said about 82% and nearly 20% of the Chinese and Indian quotas respectively had been filled, adding that there was “still a lot to go” for the bumiputra allocation.

He said PNB might extend the period for subscribing to the AS1M share trust units, which has a Dec 31 deadline.

Asked whether PNB expected the 10 billion units to be fully subscribed, Hamad Kama Piah said “it would take time,” adding that the company was currently conducting nationwide promotions to create more awareness of the AS1M fund to the public.

Meanwhile, PNB announced an income distribution of 5.2 sen per unit for its ASN fund for the financial year ending Dec 31, 2009.

The income distribution will involve a total payment of RM81.52mil versus RM79.9mil last year.

PNB chairman Tun Ahmad Sarji Abdul Hamid said based on the net asset value of ASN of 75.86 sen per unit on Dec 22, 2009, the yield derived from the income distribution of 5.2 sen per unit was 7.36%.

The price return for ASN for the same period is 25.75%.

“Therefore, based on the rise of the net asset value of ASN from RM0.5619 per unit on Dec 31, 2008 to 75.86 sen per unit on Dec 22, 2009, the total return recorded by ASN is 35.01%,” Ahmad Sarji said.

Up until Tuesday, ASN recorded a gross income of RM87.91mil. Of the amount, the profit from the sale of shares contributed RM55.46mil (63.09%) followed by dividend income that contributed RM23.75mil (27.02%), while RM8.70mil (9.89%) was derived from short-term investment instruments.

The income distribution of ASN is calculated based on the units held on Dec 31, 2009, which is the last day of the ASN financial year. The payment will benefit 1.19 million unit holders which currently hold more than 1.57 billion units of ASN.

By The Star (by Eugene Mahalingam)

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