Frontrunner for 51% of EON Cap

Primus Pacific outbids Newbridge, MPlant for block

KUALA LUMPUR: Primus Pacific Partners Ltd (PPP) has emerged as the frontrunner to buy a controlling 51% stake in EON Capital Bhd (EON Cap) after it outbid Newbridge Capital Ltd and Malaysian Plantations Bhd (MPlant). 

A source said the PPP offer was believed to be between RM9.25 and RM9.50 a share, exceeding the reserve price of RM9 a share set for the 51% block by DRB-Hicom Bhd, Rin Kei Mei and other shareholders. 

“ABN Amro is finding buyers for the block and is facilitating the sale,'' the source added. 

Newbridge is said to have bid RM9 a share while MPlant's offer is thought to be RM8.80 a share. 

The RM9 reserve price values the bank at about two times book value. The PPP offer would see it pay between RM6.4bil and RM6.6bil to buy up EON Cap. 

EON Cap shares yesterday rose 65 sen, or 8.9%, to RM7.95 – an all-time high. 

A block of EON Cap shares has been on the market for some time as DRB-Hicom has been interested in selling its 20.2% stake. Newbridge has been linked with the purchase of the DRB-HICOM block but maintained that it was only interested in DRB-HICOM's 20.2% block in EON Cap and would not make a general offer for the remaining shares. 

The source, however, said apart from DRB-HICOM, Rin, who owns 15.5%, and other shareholders had grouped their stakes to offer a controlling block to prospective investors. 

Other major shareholders of EON Cap are Tan Sri Tiong Hiew King with 17.1% and the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) with 8.4%. 

It is reported that EPF was keen to sell minority stakes in other banks. 

The enlarged block on offer had also attracted the interest of other parties. 

PPP and MPlant were ready to make a general offer for shares in EON Cap. Other Malaysian banks were said to have been interested in buying over EON Cap. 

PPP has been on the lookout to acquire a stake in a Malaysian bank. As a member of a consortium, it launched a bid to buy the RHB Banking group. Its offer, however, was turned down by Utama Banking Group Bhd, which accepted an offer from the EPF. 

If PPP wins the bid, the source said the private equity fund would need to find Malaysian partners to fulfil Bank Negara's requirements. 

The source said Rin, who was offering for sale his direct stake in EON Cap, might partner PPP in the private equity fund's purchase of EON Cap. 

“Tun Daim Zainuddin is also involved in the PPP deal,'' a source said.  

Daim was also linked with PPP's move to buy the RHB Banking group. 

 EONCAP :  [Stock Watch]  [NewsEONCAP-OA :  [Stock Watch]

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