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Monday, May 24, 2010

Talam hopes to get out of PN17

PETALING JAYA: Talam Corp Bhd is hopeful of getting out of the Practice Note 17 (PN17) list if auditors give it a clean bill of health.

Bursa Malaysia has requested for more information after the company made a submission to be uplifted from the PN17 list on April 30.

Talam and its adviser, RHB Investment Bank Bhd, are still collating the necessary documents. This will include the audited accounts for financial year ended Jan 31, 2010, which is expected to be out this week.

The company, which has been on the PN17 list since Sept 1, 2006, has taken longer than expected to exit from the troubled companies list because of prolonged negotiations on assets disposal. It plans to dispose land and buildings to pay off its outstanding loans.

Once the country’s largest builder of low- and low-medium cost houses, Talam slipped into the PN17 list after its auditors failed to provide an opinion on its results for financial year ended Jan 31, 2006. The company had also defaulted on term loans and bond obligations.

Its debt restructuring exercise involves three parts – a capital reduction and a share split, the issuance of new convertible instruments to address certain defaulted debts, and a proposed asset divestment programme.

As at Jan 31, 2009, Talam’s debts stood at some RM666.57mil, of which 78%, or RM522.46mil, are sukuk, Al Bai’ Bithaman Ajil Islamic debt securities and bridging loans.

Talam has about 2,400 ha of landbank, which is mostly located in Selangor. It is understood that the company plans to dispose about 1,214 ha, which is about half of its total landbank. The largest tract of land to be disposed would be the company’s Bandar Bukit Beruntung development.

To date, Talam has divested more than RM800mil of its properties, mainly land, including about RM670mil that was committed to be sold to Menteri Besar Selangor Inc to settle debts totalling RM392mil. The balance would be used to repay debts due to financial institutions.

Most of the debts stemmed from joint ventures on land belonging to state agencies, such as subsidiaries of Kumpulan Hartanah Selangor Bhd, Permodalan Negeri Selangor Bhd and Pendidikan YS Sdn Bhd.

Talam partially completed its debt restructuring in July last year and returned to the black in financial year ended Jan 31, 2009.

Even if the company settles all its debts and is uplifted from PN17 status, it still has to redeem its image following stalled projects that have caused many house buyers to be disgruntled.

The company has 8,000 properties in various stages of completion and has roped in IJM Construction Sdn Bhd as the principal contractor for its stalled projects.

The projects are Kinrara Section 3, Ukay Perdana, Lagoon Perdana, Putra Perdana, Lestari Puchong, Saujana Puchong, Saujana Putra, Lestari Permasi and Jalil Heights.

A Talam official said 5,000 units would be handed over with vacant possession to the buyers in the next two months. IJM has completed the Taman Puncak Jalil project with over 3,000 houses delivered. While IJM does not have a direct stake in Talam, it owns 25% of Kumpulan Europlus Bhd (KEuro), which in turn has a 24% stake in Talam.

A KEuro spokesman said the company intends to retain majority interest in Talam eventhough KEuro had pared down its stake in Talam from more than 40% about a year ago.

Talam’s management plans to turn around the company and move on with its project development plans. It is targeting to achieve at least 90% completion rate this year for its stalled projects.

It will concentrate on its joint-venture projects such as Sierra Ukay, Sierra Selayang and Ukay Perdana, as well as disposing its converted industrial and commercial land. These projects have a combined gross development value of more than RM1.4bil.

By The Star

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