KUMPULAN Guthrie Bhd is believed to be the next candidate for a merger exercise to create a sizeable property and plantation business following the merger between Island & Peninsular Bhd (I&P) and Golden Hope Plantations Bhd.
“Everything hinges on this I&P and Golden Hope deal. It seems that everything is going on well and the next candidate will be Guthrie,” a source close to Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB) told StarBiz.
“(Datuk Abd) Wahab Maskan is getting the groundwork ready for a smooth merger process,” the source said, referring to the Guthrie chief executive officer who took over from Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim in January.
Wahab was previously group chief executive of Golden Hope, and one of the prominent figures entrusted by PNB to realise the plan to create the largest property and plantation companies in the country.
It is not immediately known whether Guthrie's plantation and property assets would be merged with I&P and Golden Hope, or with another company under PNB’s stable.
The recently completed assets swap between I&P and Golden Hope has been well received by the investing public, as evident by the price increases in otherwise “slow moving” counters.
Since the announcement of the merger in September, the share price of I&P had steadily risen from RM3.40 to close at RM5.60 on Friday. Golden Hope also showed a similar trend, closing Friday at RM4.32 from RM3.42 when the deal was first announced.
At a press briefing on Friday, I&P managing director Dr Radzuan Abdul Rahman said the merger would increase I&P's paid-up capital to RM936.415mil from RM349.862mil.
With nearly 20%, or 200 million of free float, he said I&P had turned into a favourite among foreign fund managers due to the liquidity. Both counters have been actively traded in the past two weeks following the signing of the merger agreement.
PNB will remain the substantial shareholder of I&P and Golden Hope post merger, with holdings of 60% and 59% respectively. Foreign funds would still hold less than 5% of I&P, said Radzuan.