AFFIN Merchant Bank Berhad is confident that its corporate restructuring and rationalisation services units will receive a significant boost from the imminent mergers of government-linked plantation companies.
“Given Affin Merchant's niche in advisory work for state agencies and government-related industries and companies, it is possible for us to secure a fair bit of new businesses from these mergers (of plantation companies),” said its president and chief executive Datin Zuraidah Atan.
“The fact that we have done primarily well in restructuring, turnarounds, as well as mergers and acquisitions, will position us positively. We are just waiting for the plantation companies to make announcements on the possible mergers,” she added.
Zuraidah said this at the sideline of a seminar organised for the Federation of Women Entrepreneurs Associations Malaysia (FEM) in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. Also present was FEM chairman Mariam Tun Sulaiman.
Currently, Affin Merchant is the advisor to the Kedah and Johor governments and the state-owned companies. Zuraidah expects companies in general to strongly consider consolidating and fortifying their businesses during bad times to become, or remain, competitive.
On a different note, Zuraidah said the merger of Affin Merchant with its discount house, Affin Discount Bhd, and stock broking company, Affin-UOB Securities Sdn Bhd, was well on track.
“From Affin Holdings Bhd's perspective, we want to move as a group towards a full-fledged investment bank. So, at least, the activities (towards becoming an investment bank) must start, even though the shareholders' decision will take some time,” she said.
She added that the merchant bank was actively working with Affin Discount and Affin-UOB on the merger.
However, she declined to comment on the possibility that MISC Enterprises Holdings Sdn Bhd may pull out from being a shareholder owing to the merger. MISC Enterprises, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Malaysia International Shipping Corporation Bhd, holds 36.84% in Affin Merchant Bank.
She said this issue would be discussed during Affin Holdings AGM at the end of this month.
The FEM seminar, themed Going Public, was aimed at providing information to dynamic Malaysian women entrepreneurs about going for a listing on the local stock exchange and equity capital markets.
Quoting statistics from The Small and Medium-sized Industries Development Corporation, Mariam said women entrepreneurs accounted for 15% in manufacturing, 13% in consultancy services, 10.8% in services, 10.3% in trade, 9.2% in fashion and 41% in other industries.
Zuraidah said Affin Merchant would continue to hold similar seminars with business associations as part of its marketing efforts to develop new target markets.
Last month, Rating Agency Malaysia Bhd (RAM) upgraded Affin Merchant Bank's long-term and short-term private debt securities ratings to A3 from BBB1 and to P1 from P2 respectively, due to the merchant banker's healthier performance indicators, improving asset quality and stronger capitalisation.
Affin Merchant returned to the black after two years of losses with a pre-tax profit of RM26.67mil for the financial year ended Dec 31, 2001.
RAM has estimated that the merchant bank would achieve a pre-tax profit of RM31.57mil by the third quarter of its financial year 2002.
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