Tradewinds sees many changes

PETALING JAYA: Incorporated in 1965 as Hilton Hotels Development (M) Ltd, Tradewinds Corp Bhd has seen many changes over the years. 

The company’s primary focus back then was in the area of hospitality in hotels and restaurants. 

Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary

Its name was changed to Far Eastern Hotels Development (M) Sdn Bhd in 1966 and subsequently to Far Eastern Hotels Development (M) Bhd when it was converted into a public limited company in 1968. 

In 1979, it underwent another name change to Pernas International Hotels & Properties Bhd (PIHP) to reflect the government's investment arm Perbadanan Nasional Bhd’s (Pernas) equity and management. 

PIHP was listed on the main board of the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange in 1990. 

Under a RM1.1bil management buyout of Pernas in 1996, PIHP took over major assets that included plantations, manufacturing, hotels and properties, and other service-related activities. 

It also gained controlling stakes in three listed firms – Tradewinds (M) Bhd (TMB), Malayawata Steel (M) Bhd and United Malayan Flour Mills Bhd .  

Now known as Pernas International Holdings Bhd (PIHB), the company then undertook a rationalisation exercise under which it sold its 49% stake in PSD Holdings Bhd and a 10.2% stake in MNI Holdings Bhd.  

TMB meanwhile, had sold a 25% stake in Malaysia National Insurance Sdn Bhd to Timah Langat Bhd for a gain of RM295.2mil. 

Flush with funds from that deal, the group went on a land acquisition trail and turned itself into a major plantation group. 

By mid-1997 its total land bank had doubled to 20,000ha and as at Dec 31, 2006, its plantations division under Tradewinds Plantations Bhd (TPB) had a total land bank of 126,985ha. 

Also in mid-1997, the group announced a plan to list all its plantation assets under one entity but the proposal was called off in January 1998. 

The separate listing of the group's plantation business was finally realised in March last year, when TPB debuted on the Bursa Malaysia main board, with TMB holding a 69.7% stake. 

The listing resulted from a merger of TMB's 14 plantation subsidiaries with Johore Tenggara Oil Palm Bhd. 

Under TMB is also the group's sugar refining operations, a steady cash generating business. 

Central Sugars Refinery Sdn Bhd (CSR) is the second largest sugar refinery in the country after Malayan Sugar Manufacturing Co. 

Tycoon Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary, via Restu Jernih Sdn Bhd, emerged as a major shareholder in PIHB in January 2003 with a 32% stake.  

In July 2004, PIHB became Tradewinds Corp Bhd to reflect its status as the holding company of TMB, in which it holds 52.8% stake. By then, it had disposed of Malayawata Steel (in 2000), followed by United Malayan Flour Mills in 2005.  

Since the group's inception, the hotel business has been a core business and its properties include Crowne Plaza Mutiara Kuala Lumpur, Hotel Istana Kuala Lumpur, Hilton PJ, Mutiara Beach Resort Penang, Meritus Pelangi Beach Resort & Spa in Langkawi and Mutiara Johor Baru. 

It recently announced that 70% controlled unit Tradewinds Hotels & Resorts Sdn Bhd had bought into a hotel development in Langkawi Island for RM1mil. 

Another core business is property. 

For the financial year ended Dec 31, 2006, the division derived RM90.5mil in revenue, mainly from joint venture development of two parcels of land in Johor, disposal or some remnant land and rental income from Kompleks Antarabangsa and Menara Tun Razak and their respective carparks in Kuala Lumpur.  

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