Unico capital reduction exercise to proceed

KUALA LUMPUR: Unico Holdings Bhd (UHB) will proceed with its capital reduction exercise but would still consider better offers for its stake in Unico-Desa Plantations Bhd, says group chairman Tan Sri Lim Guan Teik. 

“As far as the board of directors is concerned, we have a mandate to follow and are bound by the decisions made by the shareholders at the AGM. 

“But if someone were to come forward and offer us a better price which is more beneficial, we would look into it,” he told a press conference yesterday. 

Tan Sri Lim Guan Teik at the press conference

Lim was referring to UHB’s decision to sell its 29.3% stake in Unico-Desa Plantations Bhd. 

The group AGM on Sept 28 had secured shareholder approval for the capital reduction plan, to be followed by the distribution of Unico-Desa shares to some 22,200 UHB shareholders. 

However, the mandate saw former director Tan Kai Hee (who was not re-elected at the AGM) protesting the corporate exercise and voicing his opinion on the matter in several Chinese newspapers. 

Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia president Tan Sri William Cheng eventually stepped in and met with UHB’s existing board members and Hai Kee to resolve the matter. 

What apparently transpired at this meeting was that the board decided it would dispose a combined 57% shareholding in Unico-Desa, comprising UHB’s 29.3% stake and another 28% owned by two UHB board members. 

This caused Unico-Desa’s share price to surge and sparked speculation that it was a potential takeover target from the likes of plantation giant IOI Corp Bhd

Not true, according to UHB director Datuk Tan Huat Sheng. 

“Newspapers claimed we have received offers from IOI (to purchase the 57% Unico-Desa stake) but that is purely speculation,” he said. 

Tan maintained that the group had yet to receive an official offer from any interested party. 

“If anyone is interested, they should do it (express interest) through the proper channels. They should come forward and make an official offer, then we will evaluate,” he said. 

He also said the group was already taking steps towards implementing the mandate received at the AGM, but would still remain open to offers for the 57% stake. 

“We won’t deny that selling a 57% stake would command a better premium, but this is only if a good offer comes. If one does come, we will have an EGM to explain the proposal’s benefits to our shareholders,” said Tan. 

On another note, two defamation suits have been initiated against Kai Hee by UHB’s board of directors for statements made by the former in “many Chinese newspapers”. 

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