Founder Lin is a visionary who loves to take on new challenges
A SEASONED hand in the construction sector, Datuk Lin Yun Ling has been the face of construction giant Gamuda Bhd to the investor community. What makes Lin, a relatively low-profile corporate figure, newsmaker for this week, is perhaps the company being the PDP (project delivery partner) “king” in the country.
Gamuda’s 60%-owned joint venture, SRS consortium, has received a letter of award from the Penang government to carry out the alternative transport masterplan and to provide new reclamation sites.
SRS Consortium had been picked to be the PDP to oversee and realise certain key components in the RM27bil Penang transport masterplan. The remaining stake in SRS is owned by Penang companies – Ideal Property Development Sdn Bhd (20%) and Loh Phoy Yen Holdings (20%).
This is no small feat even for a construction giant. The company, together with its joint-venture partner MMC Corp Bhd, is currently the PDP for Klang Valley’s mass rapid transit (MRT) line 1 and 2.
Lin, 59, a civil engineer with good business acumen, is quick to act on opportunities that comes by. He took the risk to pioneer in overseeing the country’s first MRT lines. Not to forget the RM8bil tunnelling job that comes with it. While doing this, he still managed to clinch more engineering and construction contracts.
With his status, Lin could considered to be a laid-back guy, always comfortable in his white short-sleeve shirt and jeans. Information is always at his fingers tips.
Industry peers describe Lin as a very hands-on person with in-depth knowledge of what he is doing.
“Professionally, Lin in a nutshell is a visionary who loves to take on new challenges. Quite a patriotic but shrewd businessman as his plans always include the country’s and public interest,” says an industry player.
“His bold and direct leadership has taken construction company Gamuda to greater heights to pioneer the engineering, construction and design of the country’s first mass rapid transit line and most expensive public infrastructure project. This has placed him at No. 45 on Malaysia richest Forbes’ list in 2013.”
A fund manager says the recognition of Lin has built among investors is a double-edged sword. The manager explains that many do not invest in construction stocks generally because it is difficult to predict their margins although their order book may look impressive.
“Under such circumstances, fund managers cannot be faulted for selling Gamuda if they do not see Lin there,” he says.
A couple of years ago, Lin single-handedly sent Gamuda shares into a free fall after he pared down his stake, fuelling speculation that he was exiting Gamuda. Such is the effect of Lin, who is also the founder of Gamuda, to the investment community. Lin is not the largest shareholder of Gamuda, owning only 3%. The Employees Provident Fund holds some 10% of Gamuda’s stock.
Lin joined Gamuda in 1978 as a senior project manager, bringing more than 35 years of experience in civil engineering and construction to the company. Under his leadership, Gamuda expanded its business focus from construction into infrastructure and property development, all sectors in which the group has dominant positions, both locally and internationally.
The group has also grown tremendously from a company that occupied a number of shophouses in Damansara Jaya to Menara Gamuda in PJ Trade Centre.
The company Lin founded in 1976 with four others who are now retired has grown from its original RM100,000 to be worth more than RM9.84bil in market capitalisation.
Often analysts say Gamuda plays the lead role of EPC (engineering procurement construction) contractor in big infrastructure projects.
Apart from property development, Gamuda also has a 40-year concession to operate and maintain flood mitigation and traffic alleviation project, the Stormwater Management and Road Tunnel (SMART).
Gamuda is also is the largest intra-urban expressway concessionaire in the country. It built, operates and maintains the Shah Alam Expressway, Damansara Puchong Highway and the Sprint Highway.
But it wasn’t always smooth sailing for the construction firm. The sales of the company’s water assets has been in a deadlock for about two years.
The Selangor water restructuring exercise has yet to be finalised and next month will be a time to watch for major developments relating to the water sector in Selangor.
Splash, a 40%-owned associate of Gamuda, could benefit should the Selangor government makes the decision to revise the offer price to acquire the company.
In February last year, the Selangor Government made a net offer of RM250.6mil to buy out Gamuda’s equity stake in Splash but Gamuda’s main contention was that Splash should be sold at the minimum of its book value, which is RM2.8bil as at end-November.
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