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Saturday, January 21, 2012

PNB and Liew in Joint offer for SP Setia

KUALA LUMPUR: Tan Sri Liew Kee Sin and the country's largest asset manager, Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB), are making a joint revised offer for SP Setia Bhd in a bid to safeguard the interests of all shareholders and maintain management continuity in the company.

This new turn of events followed the move by PNB to raise its stake in property developer SP Setia via a conditional offer made last September to gain control of the company.

The new offer price has been revised to RM3.95 per share from RM3.90 while the offer for the warrants has been revised to 96 sen per warrant from 91 sen.

According to sources, the joint offer was arrived at following meetings between Liew, who is president and chief executive officer of SP Setia, and PNB president-cum-group chief executive Tan Sri Hamad Kama Piah Che Othman.

SP Setia board of directors said in an announcement to the stock exchange that they received the notice of revised offer from Maybank Investment Bank Bhd issued on behalf of PNB and Liew. The company had earlier asked for the trading of its shares to be suspended, with the last traded price at RM3.88.

As part of the offer, Liew, PNB and SP Setia would enter into a management agreement for Liew to remain at the helm for a period of three years following the close of the revised offer.

He would continue to oversee and manage the operations of SP Setia within the ordinary course of the company's business, appoint and remunerate managers and employees as well as enter into contracts or arrangements for and on behalf of the company.

Liew told StarBizWeek that the key point of the joint offer was the strong marriage that would arise, with SP Setia able to lean on the support of cash-rich PNB for expansion and growth while PNB would have invested in a trusted brand with a regional presence.

“It's a win-win situation and there'll be no change in management,” Liew said, adding that PNB had remained supportive of the company's ventures abroad, including SP Setia's failed bid for the Battersea power station in Great Britain, even during the period of the first offer.

He said the previous offer caused a bit of confusion as the company's management was in the dark as to PNB's intentions. “But the management agreement shows that PNB recognises that without a strong team, SP Setia's future will not be so bright,” Liew pointed out.

He said the revised offer was also to “appease ruffled feathers out there” while his role as a party acting in concert was to overcome the Securities Commission's objections as well as the rules on takeovers and mergers.

Liew, who has an 8% direct stake in the company, would not accept the revised offer but would be given a put option in the three years following the close of the takeover offer. This would give him the right to sell his stake to PNB in tranches at the same price of RM3.95 per share.

He said the revised offer and the conditions attached to it, including retaining the current management team, showed PNB's genuine interest and sincerity as an investor.

Hamad had taken the step of reassuring the company and stakeholders in a joint statement with Liew last October that the latter would continue to lead SP Setia and manage its day-to-day operations.

“On our part, we'll now have to prove ourselves worthy as they've been supportive of all the key thrusts of the company, be it in eco-homes, township development, luxury condominiums, high-rise residentials and integrated commercial projects,” Liew said.

By The Star

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