Spotlight on Faber

PETALING JAYA: Integrated facilities specialist and property developer Faber Group Bhd will be having its analysts' and media briefing tomorrow where hopefully more light will be shed on the company's businesses and future direction.

In particular, there would be questions on the company's latest venture - a proposed energy performance management system (EPMS) project to improve energy consumption efficiency in government buildings.

Announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak last week, this entry point project under the Economic Transformation Programme would be spearheaded by Faber Group.

The company has commenced energy audits at five selected government hospitals as part of the pilot phase in the northern region of the peninsula.

According to OSK Research analyst Nor Fauzi Nasron in a report dated March 9, the Government has identified 120 sites or buildings throughout the country where utility bills of RM700mil per annum have been incurred for the implementation of the project.

“Management has guided that the pilot project will be completed in May after which Faber Group will come up with its proposal to implement the EPMS at the rest of the sites identified,” he said.

Nor Fauzi said with an estimated energy saving of 10% to 20%, the Government was expected to cut its utility bill by RM70mil to RM140mil a year.

“Although Faber Group has yet to decide on the business model at this juncture, among the options being considered is a profit sharing scheme whereby the Government will pass on a certain portion of the energy expenditure to savings to the company for a period of around 10 years,” he said.

Nor Fauzi said assuming a 50:50 savings sharing arrangement, this would generate some RM35mil to RM70mil per annum to the company's topline.

Besides questions on the latest venture, analysts would want to have an update on the company's bid to renew its integrated facilities concession for non-medical support services in the northern states of Peninsular Malaysia as well as Sabah and Sarawak.

This 15-year concession, together with similar ones for other parts of the country parceled out to Radicare (M) Sdn Bhd and Pantai Medivest Sdn Bhd, would expire in October.

Faber Group had submitted an application to the Health Ministry for the renewal of the concession in October 2009 with analysts confident that the company's bid would be successful.

While nothing has been revealed, Nor Fauzi told StarBiz that the three concessionaires would likely get their concessions renewed after the rates for the concessions were agreed on.

“Its just a matter of time, the Health Ministry have made its recommendations, now it's up to the Finance Ministry to call the concessionaires on the rates,” he said.

However, talk surfaced last year that the company might lose the Sabah and Sarawak portion of the concession but Nor Fauzi said it “will be status quo for everyone” meaning Faber Group would get to keep its concession intact.

HwangDBS Vickers Research analyst Chong Tjen San said the Sabah and Sarawak portion was crucial as it formed the bulk of the company's profit and revenue.

The renewal of the concession, which covered 79 hospitals including 49 in Sabah and Sarawak, would also be important to the company's financial well-being as the largest portion of the profit before tax and revenue has consistently come from this business.

For the fourth quarter ended Dec 31, 2010, Faber Group's profit before tax plunged 70.81% to RM19.20mil compared with the previous corresponding quarter largely on lower revenue from the non-concession integrated facilities business and lower profit from the concession business after recognising adverse one-off non-recurring items amounting to RM10.6mil.

Revenue for the quarter fell 32.89% to RM203.94mil compared with the same quarter a year ago as non-concession business recorded lower work orders completed and the property division saw lower revenue.

The renewal of the concession business would also be important for the future of Faber Group as there was talk not long after Khazanah Nasional Bhd took Singapore-listed Parkway Holdings Ltd private that all the Khazanah Nasional-linked concessionaires might be merged.

This was because Pantai Medivest through Pantai Holdings Bhd, a unit of Parkway, was an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of Khazanah Nasional, which also has a stake in Faber Group via wholly-owned UEM Group Bhd.

Chong said the merger might be in focus again next year after the concessions were sorted out.

“On the surface, it does make sense for Khazanah Nasional to merge its interests in the concessions but this will not happen until the concessions are renewed,” he added.

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