MANY people describe Teong Teck Lean as a simple and down to earth businessman. But, they used to laugh at him when he decided to invest in a loss-making courier company called GD Express Sdn Bhd.
That courier company Teong ploughed his hard-earned money as a dealer at OSK Securities Bhd is now a RM2.3bil market capitalisation-company listed on the Main Market of Bursa Malaysia.
GD Express Bhd (GDex) has come a long way since its formation in 1997. It was established by former executives of Nationwide Express and Fedex to provide express delivery service for the domestic and international markets.
Although it got off to a good start, with some RM2.5mil from investors, it could not withstand the whiplash from the Asian Financial Crisis and just two years later, shareholders were told that funds were running dry and the possibility of having to wind up the company was imminent.
Teong’s interest in GDex took many observers by surprise.
They wondered why anyone would want to be invovled in the company. But, Teong saw the light in GDex, and although the accounts did seem like a real piece of work, he took up the challenge.
How the tables have turned now with his recent share sale totalling RM93mil to Japan’s Yamato Group.
His story has been recounted in a book and the rise of GDex entitled “A Drive For Excellence” by Philemon Soon, an ex-owner and publisher of The Sun newspaper. In the book, Soon writes of Teong’s simple background and how he came to be a millionaire.
Teong was born in a small town in Perak in 1960 as number eight to what would be a family of six boys and five girls.
His stint in Texas Instruments and Lembaga Letrik Negara, now known as Tenaga Nasional, is where he developed and enhanced his engineering and analytical skills, before moving on to his third employer, OSK Securities.
As a dealer, he was thorough and quickly became one of the top in terms of trade volume and commissions earned.
GDex had been in dire straits when Teong took a major shareholding in it in 2000, with creditors lining up for payments.
Salaries were not being paid on time and Socso, EPF and income tax were in arrears, leaving staff worried that they may soon be out of a job.
Teong brought in two Singaporean management consultants to help him straighten things out at GDex. Steps were put in to remedy the raging fire and to gradually rebuild shop.
Teong had to pick up the pieces and seriously change the attitude and working environment at GDex.
And in a mere three years, he successfully turned the company around, and soon after, he listed the company on the Bursa’s ACE Market, then known as the Mesdaq Market in 2005.
It was listed on May 17, 2005 at an initial public offering price of 30 sen. On the first trading day, the shares climbed to 40 sen.
Seven years later, GDex transferred its listing status to the Main Market of Bursa. It has a current price-earnings multiple of 68 times, signalling the potential confidence in the growth of e-commerce. Its six-year compounded annual growth rate stands at 34%.
With Yamato’s 23% stake, Teong and Singapore Post Ltd’s shareholdings now stands at 35.39% and 11.2% respectively. With the shares last traded at RM1.68 each, Teong’s shareholding of 499.3 million shares is now valued at RM838.82mil.
Both GDex and Teong will be closely observed moving forward, especially with the upcoming briefing on its collaboration with Yamato next week.