KUALA LUMPUR: Plantation giant IOI Corp Bhd has denied claims that it is considering purchasing a controlling stake in Unico-Desa Plantations Bhd.
Chairman Tan Sri Lee Shin Cheng said reports that IOI had shown interest in buying the stake were false.
“We have not made any offer to purchase (the stake). We have not had any expressions of interest, nothing,” he told a press conference yesterday.
“However, if Unico made an official offer to sell its stake (in Unico-Desa), then we will consider. Otherwise, we are not interested,” he added.
Unico Holdings Bhd, Unico-Desa's parent company, had at its AGM in September passed a mandate to undertake a capital-reduction exercise and distribute 29.3% of Unico-Desa's shares to its shareholders.
The mandate did not sit well with ousted director Tan Kai Hee, who publicly voiced his opinion via several Chinese newspapers.
Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia president Tan Sri William Cheng, playing the role of mediator, stepped in and met with the Unico group's board members and Tan to resolve the issue.
Cheng had proposed a solution – sell off a total 57% stake in Unico-Desa en bloc (as opposed to the 29.3%), which would fetch a better premium.
When news of Cheng's proposal (to sell a 57% stake) hit the market, speculations were rampant on a potential takeover, with IOI headlining the rumour list. So strong were the speculations that Unico-Desa's stock soared.
Late last week, Unico group's board of directors held a press conference to announce that it had initiated defamation proceedings against Tan and also to set the record straight about the takeover, at least on Unico's part.
Unico group chairman Tan Sri Lim Guan Teik had then confirmed the group was going ahead with the mandate approved at its AGM and that it would carry on with the capital-reduction exercise.
He also confirmed that the group never received any offer to purchase the (controlling) stake in Unico-Desa either from IOI or anyone else, but said that the group would consider the option (to sell) if it received a “good offer.”