Here’s another land deal in Sarawak. Ta Ann Holdings Bhd, through its unit, Multi Maximum Sdn Bhd, is buying an obscure company Europalm Sdn Bhd.
Ta Ann is paying RM20.5 million for the entire two million shares of RM1 each in Europalm, according to the Business Times.
Europalm reportedly owns 1,500ha of plantation land at Jemoreng Land, Sarawak and had been awarded another 1,113ha at Seredeng Land. That would make the average purchase price RM3,200 per acre.
An analyst was reported as saying it was a very good price as “Sarawak plantation land is often considered to be more expensive at RM18,000 to RM20,000 per acre depending on the proximity, infrastructure and facilities”.
Question: How much did Europalm pay for the land?
A company search reveals that Europalm is a fairly new company, registered on 12 June 2007. Its status is “existing” but its nature of business is described as “no operation”. It has authorised and issued capital of RM100,000.
Responding to a Bursa Malaysia query, Ta Ann revealed the purchase was made “on a ‘willing buyer-willing seller’ basis negotiated at arm’s length and after taking into consideration the value of the lands as ascribed by an independent registered valuer, C H Williams Talhar Wong & Yeo Sdn Bhd”.
Ta Ann told Bursa that its directors felt that the average value of RM3,200 per acre was a fair value. It bought the two million shares from the following:
Number of ordinary shares of RM1.00 each
|Ngu Meng Soon
|Chia Ah Fok
|Kho Soon Kih
|Lim Khay Hian
|Salleh Bin Hamdan
|Juraini Binti Mohamad Lily
|Nature Palms Sdn Bhd
A company search reveals that Nature Palms Sdn Bhd, registered on 21 March 2008, has an issued share capital of two shares of RM1 each, held by a male and a female at the same address in Shah Alam.
So who is behind Ta Ann? Its chairman is Abdul Hamed Sepawi, reportedly the cousin of Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud (who is also finance minister and planning and resource management minister). Abdul Hamed has a 25 per cent stake (direct and indirect) in the firm, according to the firm’s 2008 annual report.
Abdul Hamed is also chairman and independent executive director of Sarawak Energy Bhd, non-independent non-executive director of Sarawak Plantations Bhd (in which he has a 30 per cent interest), and chairman of Naim Holdings Bhd (in which he has a 12 per cent stake). In 2008, Forbes listed him as the 30th richest Malaysian.
Wahab Dolah, the MP for Igan under which falls the Jemoreng state constituency, also has a 25 per cent stake (direct and indirect) in Ta Ann. He was one of Taib’s close political associates and was at one time touted as a possible successor.
Ta Ann’s managing director is Wong Kuo Hea, who has a 27 per cent stake in the firm.
Companies like these, CMS (controlled by the Chief Minister’s family), and the logging and oil palm firms pretty much dominate the Sarawak economy. Some of these firms have interlocking directorates, with the same names cropping up again and again. The only major area they don’t control is the oil and gas sector, which falls under Petronas, though spin-offs may come in the form of contracts.