Wind of radical change sweeps ex-mining major MMC

  • Business
  • Thursday, 30 Jan 2003


MALAYSIA Mining Corp (MMC), once the world's largest tin mining company, is today heading in an entirely different path. 

The company is now helmed by businessman Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Albukhary and its business has turned to utilities, and construction and engineering. 

The once-sleepy mining company that had an assortment of mining companies under its wing is now eyeing the potential of the infrastructure and utilities sector in Malaysia. 

Its transformation has been particularly interesting for shareholders of a company that was one of the world's largest integrated tin mining firms in the 1980s. 

The group ceased tin mining operations in Malaysia in April 1993 owing to a gloomy outlook and the absence of any signs of a recovery in the tin industry. 

It, however, remained involved in the gold and diamond mining industry through its overseas mining operations in Ashton Mining and Plutonic Resources. The group's mining activities are basically limited to exploration work. 

Among its other notable investments is a 42% stake in Gas Malaysia. 

Before Mokhtar's entry, MMC's parent Permodalan Nasional Bhd had entered into an agreement to sell its 32% stake in MMC to KUB Malaysia Bhd. That agreement, however, lapsed. 

In 2000, MMC completed its acquisition of 22.7% of Malakoff Bhd, currently the country's leading independent power producer. 

MMC entered into an agreement Seaport Terminal (Johore) Sdn Bhd for the acquisition of 50.1% stake in Port of Tanjung Pelepas Sdn Bhd (PTP) in November 2001. The deal, which hit a few potholes, has however been completed. 

While there have been numerous corporate exercises over the past few years as MMC sold off its mining business and bought stakes in Malakoff and PTP, its share price has yet to reflect that of a more dynamic company. 

A shareholder holding on to MMC shares since 1990 would have been better off putting his money in the bank as the returns from fixed deposits would have been much higher. 

The prospects for MMC today were, however, significantly much better than they were for much of the 1990s, analysts said. 

“Ports have a long gestation period before they become profitable, but the prospect for PTP is interesting,'' said the head of research at a local brokerage firm. 

He said Malakoff would be able to generate superior profits for MMC and given that the IPP was planning to expand its capacity, MMC would be a direct beneficiary in the future. 

Other areas in which the MMC group would be able to grow its profits would be the construction, engineering and the defence business. 

Analysts said Mokhtar's arrival in MMC had resulted in the counter being linked much closely nowadays to the local political arena. 

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