MUIIND (3891) - Malaysian party keen to buy Khoo’s MUI stake


PETALING JAYA: A local party is understood to be interested in taking over Tan Sri Khoo Kay Peng’s stake in Malayan United Industries Bhd

(MUI), an asset-rich company with businesses in real estate, hotels, retail, financial services as well as food and confectionery.

“A strong local personality is keen on the takeover and has hired financial advisory firms to approach Khoo, who has been out of the public limelight for several years now,” said a source.

Sources said the stake could command a premium over the market price because whoever buys the stake would have control over MUI.

The share price has steadily risen in recent weeks, with the counter spiking up by 40% to 24.5 sen since Oct 27. The stock was traded on a volume of 61.13 million shares, making it the ninth most traded counter yesterday.

Several notable names have appeared on the shareholder list. Among these shareholders, Wong Thean Soon, better known as T.S. Wong, who is the managing director and single largest shareholder of MyEG Services Bhd, stands out.

According to the financial year ended June 30, 2017 (FY17) annual report, Wong has a small stake of less than 1%.

Besides Wong, Datuk Jayakumar Paneer Selvam, said to be an investor linked to Wong, has also surfaced as a shareholder.

They could have been drawn by what they see as assets held by the company seen to be undervalued.

For example, the freehold 13-storey Corus hotel located along Jalan Ampang has a net book value of RM54.50mil while the company also holds land, both freehold and leasehold, all over the country.

MUIIND (3891) - Malaysian party keen to buy Khoo’s MUI stake

These assets do not appear to have been revalued recently.

Some of MUI’s noteworthy subsidiaries include London-listed retail chain Laura Ashley plc, Malaysian retail chain Metrojaya Bhd, Corus Hotels Ltd, MUI Properties Ltd, confectionery manufacturer Network Foods International Ltd, as well as stockbroking firm PM Securities Sdn Bhd.

Laura Ashley, a UK brand synonymous with floral dresses and English-style home furnishings, has 167 stores throughout the UK and 243 franchised stores globally.

On the other hand, Metrojaya operates seven department stores and 61 specialty stores in Malaysia under various in-house brands such as Reject Shop, East India and Somerset Bay.

MUI recorded losses amounting to RM131.7mil for FY17, on the back of RM415.1mil revenue.

Only the hotel and property divisions contributed profits to the company in FY17.

As of June 30, 2017, the company has properties located across Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom and Hong Kong, with a total net book value of RM890.26mil.