Uncertainties over Unico-Desa stake sale

Unico board issues legal letters to ousted directorUnico board issues legal letters to ousted director

PETALING JAYA: Uncertainties have arisen over the offer to sell a 57% stake in Unico-Desa Plantations Bhd as there appears to be a new twist in the ongoing saga in the form of parent company, Unico Holdings Bhd (UHB). 

UHB’s five board members, including chairman Tan Sri Lim Guan Teik and directors Teoh Hock Chai and Dr Yeoh Cheong Thye, have issued legal letters to ousted director Tan Kai Hee for defamation.  

In an announcement at a press conference after a four-hour board meeting last Friday, Lim said the intention to dispose of UHB’s 29.3% equity interest in Unico-Desa remained unchanged and that the company wanted to hire a stockbroker to sell the shares. 

Lim, however, did not disclose the board’s final decision on the proposal made by Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (ACCCIM) president Tan Sri William Cheng that to end the row, Unico-Desa shares should be sold en bloc.  

Cheng had proposed that UHB sell its 29.3% stake together with the 28% collectively owned by Teoh and Dr Yeoh, en bloc to fetch a better price, instead of undertaking a capital reduction and share distribution.  

Cheng, as mediator, last month held a meeting with the dissenting shareholders, namely UHB’s existing board members and former director Tan.  

According to Cheng, an agreement on the proposal to sell en bloc was reached at that meeting.  

The sore point initially was the opposition by Tan, who was not re-elected at the AGM on Sept 28, to UHB’s plan to undertake a capital reduction exercise, which was to be followed by the distribution of UDP shares to some 22,200 UHB shareholders. 

Unico-Desa’s share price surged on the news that its major shareholders were looking for buyers for the 57% stake and that the company could potentially be a takeover target.  

The purchaser would then have to launch a mandatory general offer for all shares not owned in Unico-Desa after it has acquired the controlling 57% stake.  

Several big planters such as IOI Corp Bhd are said to have shown interest in Unico-Desa, which has 13,405ha oil palm plantations in Sabah’s Kinabatangan and Lahad Datu. 

Kinabatangan and Lahad Datu are the prime areas for oil palm plantation in the state.  

The stock soared to a record high of RM1.23 while its market capitalisation ballooned to slightly more than RM1bil on the news but its share price has softened in the past few trading days, finishing 4 sen lower at RM1.03 yesterday amid uncertainties over the share sale.  

Analysts said the 29.3% block stake in Unico-Desa might not command as high a premium as in the case of selling the 57% equity interest en bloc. 

Also, some analysts noted that the stock was “rather pricey” after the recent sharp rise in the small plantation company’s shares. 

 UNICO :  [Stock Watch]  [News]

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