Dolomite eyes overseas infrastructure projects


BY B.K. SIDHU

Dolomite Corporation Bhd, to be listed on the KLSE main board this week, is eyeing several road and infrastructure projects in India, Laos, Sri Lanka and the Middle East, said its executive vice-chairman Lim Beng Keat. 

Locally, the company has tendered for projects worth RM905mil, of which it is hopeful of securing a sizeable portion. That would add to the order book of RM160mil it already has in hand, which includes a RM73mil highway project in India. Of the RM905mil in local project tendered, RM620mil is infrastructure-related.“We want to be an active player in India (but) there are also a whole lot of activities and projects in the (other) countries (that we want a part of),'' Lim told reporters yesterday. 

Lim Beng Keat

In India, Dolomite has submitted pre-qualification bids for several road projects to the tune of RM500mil. If it succeeds in the pre-qualifications, it would then be asked to make a bid, the results of which will only be known at the end of the year. Lim could not say what Dolomite's chances were, but he was hopeful of strengthening the company's foothold in India since it already has a project and substantial machinery there. 

As for Laos, the company has also made pre-qualification bids for several infrastructure projects. Lim declined to elaborate, but given the company's more than 50 years of experience and expertise in the quarry operations & building materials, construction and the property development businesses, he is confident it would land more contracts both locally and abroad.  

With regard to its listing, Dolomite has the track record to go for a direct listing on its own, but it opted for a reverse takeover last year of Sunway Building Technology Bhd (Suntech), which was then classified as a PN4 company. The exercise involved all the assets and liabilities of Suntech being taken out and assets of Dolomite worth RM195mil being injected into the listed shell. 

Dolomite Corp, which will become the flagship of the Dolomite group of companies, will then take over the listed status of Suntech.  

“The listing is really a new chapter for the group. It allows us to bid for bigger projects and gain access to the capital markets,'' Lim said. 

The company expects to report a RM39.8mil net profit for the financial year ending Dec 31, 2003, but Lim declined to give any future profit projections, saying only that “the company will do a lot better in the future.'' 

On property development, Lim said the company would over the next five years complete the remaining 50% of its RM1.1bil development at Taman Sri Batu Caves.  

“When we moved from Batu Caves to Cheras, we converted the land we used for storage purposes into a housing, shopping and industrial development. These 124 acres have proven to be a goldmine for us,'' Lim said. 

The Dolomite group of companies' history dates back to the 1950s when four friends decided to buy over an existing quarry called Dolomite Industries in Batu Caves. The four were renowned builders and contractors who controlled Bong Sin Construction, Lim Quee & Sons (a company set up by Lim's grandfather), How Swee Construction and Law Keat Bin, a Singaporean. Over the years, management of the companies has passed on to the second and third generations and now 29 members of these four founding families control Dolomite.  

After the four founders took over Dolomite, it grew into the country's largest quarry operator and in 1960s the company expanded into downstream activities, firstly into premix and later into ready mix concrete. In the 1980s, the Selangor state government closed all the three quarries operating in Batu Caves and Dolomite was relocated to Sungei Long in Cheras.  

It was given 838 acres with a 30-year lease period. Later it became a contractor and ventured into property development.  

After the listing, Dolomite will be 75.5% controlled by the four founding members and their families, of which Bong Sin Construction via Bong Sin Rubber Estate and Lim's Lim Housing Sdn Bhd will control 60.15% stake in the company.  

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