PETALING JAYA: Ten months after S P Setia Bhd unveiled its succession plan, head honcho Tan Sri Liew Kee Sin has announced his intention to resign as president and chief executive officer.
Also quitting the company is chief financial officer Datuk Teow Leong Seng.
Liew’s departure was expected by industry observers but Teow’s resignation came as a surprise as he was named deputy chairman in the property player’s succession plan earlier, analysts told StarBiz.
Liew would leave the property giant on April 30 while Teow would stay on until July 31.
Liew and Teow would continue to be involved in the Battersea Power Station project in London until September 2015 given the prominence of the international project.
Liew would also remain managing director for Qinzhou Development (M) Consortium Sdn Bhd, a Sino-foreign joint venture company to develop the China-Malaysia Qinzhou Industrial Park in the republic until the same period.
Sources said the property magnate would eventually emerge in Eco World Development Group Bhd after his stint in S P Setia.
It is also speculated that present chief operating officer Datuk Voon Tin Yow, who was appointed the company’s acting president and chief executive officer, might also resign later.
In a statement, S P Setia said Voon’s appointment would be effective from May 1, 2014 until April 30, 2015.
Voon would be supported by executive vice-president Datuk Khor Chap Jen who would be appointed acting deputy president during the same period, it said.
Non-independent non-executive director Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye has also resigned yesterday to focus on his new role as the deputy chairman of the National Unity Consultative Council.
S P Setia chairman Tun Zaki Tun Azmi said: “Whilst the board and I are greatly saddened by the departure of Liew, Teow and Lee, we are confident that the group will continue to be in steady hands under Voon and Khor.”
Observers expected its biggest owner Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB) to take more proactive measures in managing its talents as well as setting the company’s direction going forward.
It was earlier reported that Datuk Jamaludin Osman of I&P Group Sdn Bhd – PNB’s property arm – was among the candidates tipped to take over Liew’s stewardship. There were also talks of a possible asset injection by PNB into S P Setia.
Liew said: “Given the solid footing which the company is on, I believe the time has arrived for me to step down after 18 years as CEO.
“With my children all growing up and starting out on their own career paths, I am looking forward to spending more time with them, mentoring and guiding them.”
Liew’s eldest son, Tian Xiong, is a major shareholder and director in Eco World, another property firm set up by former S P Setia top brass.
S P Setia fell five sen to close at RM2.88 while Eco World was up one sen to RM4.15.
Analysts said the market has priced in Liew’s retirement from S P Setia and they expected the company’s operation to remain intact for the time being.
Bloomberg data showed that its forward price-to-earnings (P/E) was 13.4 times compared to 16.06 times currently. Its average P/E ranged from 17 times to 20 times from financial year ended Oct 31, 2011 (FY11) to FY13.
Liew is instrumental in growing S P Setia from a RM200mil entity in 1998 into a multi-billion ringgit international property company.
With him at the helm, S P Setia achieved sales of RM8.24bil in FY13, almost double from what it registered in FY12.
The group has 4,782 acres of undeveloped land bank worth RM102bil while its unbilled sales stood at RM9.6bil as at FY13.