Pantai said to be selling Avenue Assets stake


  • Business
  • Friday, 26 Sep 2003

BY SIDEK KAMISO

A NEW substantial shareholder is expected to emerge in Avenue Assets Bhd. There is market talk that Pantai Holdings Bhd, one of the main shareholders, is putting up its 16.9% stake for sale. 

Sources said Pantai Holdings was believed to have approached several parties over its stake in the universal broker (UB), which it had long intended to sell to concentrate on its core activity in health services. 

“The current good run in the market gives Pantai the opportunity to dispose of the stake at a good price,” a source told StarBiz

As at June 30, Avenue Assets had net tangible assets of 79.2sen per share, RM155.1mil in short term deposits and RM22.6mil in cash. Shareholders' funds stood at RM900.3mil. 

In terms of valuation, an analyst said, at the current price, the valuation of the company was undemanding, and it was among the cheapest universal brokers. “Given the market's strong run, there is potential for UBs such as Avenue,” he said 

“Thus a buyer would not lose offering par value or RM1 for the company,” he said. 

Stockbroking sources said one interested party was Symphony House Bhd group chief executive Datuk Mohamed Azman Yahaya, who had long been keen on a merchant banker's licence. 

It is understood that Azman was interested in Avenue Assets’ UB status, which would permit him to be involved in corporate financing activities. 

When contacted, Azman's close aides down-played his involvement in the deal, suggesting that the former managing director of Pengurusan Danaharta Nasional Bhd, was currently busy with Symphony's latest purchase and would not be likely to take up the new challenges just yet. 

Whether or not Azman will indeed buy into Avenue, the market talk has fuelled sharp increases in Avenue shares. At the close yesterday, Avenue gained 7.5sen to 68 sen on volume of 30.7million shares. 

One institution dealer said the rise in Avenue shares could be due to public interest following its success in clinching the deal to advise the government on the proposed privatisation of the Federal Land Development Authority (Felda), together with international stockbroking house JP Morgan. 

This should come naturally for Avenue whose main shareholders included Minister of Finance Inc, which had planned to use the UB to conduct future deals, he added. 

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