KUMPULAN Guthrie Bhd's proposed rationalisation exercise involving subsidiaries Guthrie Ropel Bhd and Highlands & Lowlands Bhd takes into account the interests of many parties as well as all shareholders of the affected companies.
“We have many shareholders to worry about, and we have to ensure a fair and equitable solution for all the parties concerned,” said Commerce International Merchant Bankers Bhd (CIMB) director of investment banking Adrian Ong.
CIMB is the adviser for Guthrie on the rationalisation exercise.
Speaking to StarBiz yesterday, Ong maintained that the conversion exercise involving 180 Guthrie shares for every 100 Guthrie Ropel shares was a fair solution.
“Based on the current Guthrie share price, the conversion translates to a 23% premium over the average Guthrie Ropel share price over the last five years. And on the latest one year average, the premium is about 18%,” he said.
A group of 12 Guthrie Ropel shareholders led by Malaysian Investors' Association president Datuk Dr P.H.S. Lim had earlier said they would vote against the resolution (on the rationalisation exercise) at an EGM next week, as they felt that the conversion was not equitable to minority shareholders.
The 12 shareholders own a total of five million shares in Guthrie Ropel.
“We feel that with the net tangible assets of Guthrie Ropel at RM5.60 and the dividend payment at an average of 24 sen, the conversion ratio could be much higher,” said Lim, adding that Guthrie was only paying a dividend of 8.3 sen a year on average.
“Some of the shareholders have been very loyal to Guthrie Ropel, having held the shares for more than 20 years; and they ought to be fairly compensated,” he said.
Lim said even though many minority shareholders were aware of Guthrie's future potential as a result of the rationalisation, the loyalty and premium attached to Guthrie Ropel, with a cash hoard of RM581mil, could not be ignored.
“We expect better returns for our investments in Guthrie Ropel,” he said.
Lim said the group had received commitment from 45% of minority shareholders from the voting rights to vote against the resolution.
“We need just another 5% for us to achieve our objective,” he said.
Majority shareholder Permodalan Nasional Bhd, which controls about 57.85% of Guthrie Ropel through Guthrie, is not allowed to vote in next week's EGM.
Among government agencies holding shares in Guthrie Ropel are Skim Amanah Bumiputra, with 3.28% and Tabung Haji, with 3.43%.
Ong said, however, Guthrie had the support of many minority shareholders who understood the objective of the rationalisation exercise and would vote for the resolution.
“Several large minority shareholders of Guthrie Ropel have expressed support for this exercise,” he said.
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