Yi-Lai aims for M&A and business diversification


Executive director Au Yee Boon said: “Leaning on Yi-Lai’s strong balance sheet, the management is always on the lookout for good businesses either via strategic collaborations or M&As. (File pic shows Yi-Lai tiles)

PETALING JAYA: Tile manufacturer Yi-Lai Bhd is stepping up its merger and acquisition (M&A) and diversification exercises having allocated an initial RM30mil to RM40mil for such purpose.

The company hopes to secure at least one M&A next year and to diversify its business in a bid to mitigate the risk of over dependence on a particular business.

Executive director Au Yee Boon said: “Leaning on Yi-Lai’s strong balance sheet, the management is always on the lookout for good businesses either via strategic collaborations or M&As.

”We hope to have at least one earnings accretive acquisition in 2021. Currently, we have several good local candidates in different industries such as renewable energy, building materials and technology that we have expressed our interest in.

“However, all of these discussions are still preliminary.”

At the same time, he added Yi-Lai is also looking to venture into different industries as it is imperative for the company to diversify its businesses to mitigate the risk of over-reliance on a single business.

This was evident after the Covid-19 outbreak as it needed to have a solid backup plan for a resilient business direction, Au noted.

He said the company currently has close to RM78mil cash and cash equivalents with zero borrowings which would facilitate, among others, its M&A and diversification exercises.

“We have also allocated about RM10mil in investments to boost our two new products – “Talos Living Tiles” and “Antivirus Tiles”. Both of these products were launched this year and we received very positive responses from our partners.

“It also gave us better margins as compared to the conventional tiles. The company foresees there will be huge demand for such tiles over the next few years, and we are in the midst of realigning our production lines and resources to mass produce these tiles, ” Au said.

After three consecutive financial year losses, the company returned to the black with RM7mil in the third quarter ended September 2020, with the net loss narrowed to RM2mil for the nine months period.

Commenting on its financial performance, Au, who is also a major shareholder of Yi-Lai, said he believes the company would turnaround for its full year 2020.

“Due to the low-base effect, I expect a spurt in growth for Yi-Lai’s FY2021 profit. The worst is over for the company. Our two-pronged engines (tiles manufacturing and IT business) would charter the company to a new height in 2021.

In terms of revenue generation, he said Yi-Lai’s revenue from tile manufacturing has always been in the range of RM100mil to RM130mil per annum. We expect it to be the same for the next three years.

However, he said the company should see high margins due to the different product offerings that it has launched, as well as the cost saving measures and effort to increase efficiency.

The new IT business would play an important part in the bottom line generation, as it is serviced-based, its margins are much higher despite lower top line, he noted.

In the next three to five years, Au said he is upbeat Yi-Lai’s revenue would be above RM300mil per annum, with profit margins of at least 20%. “I strongly believe this is achievable, and I believe this will provide a re-rating catalyst to Yi-Lai, ” he said.

Yi-Lai diversified its business into the IT segment in September when it announced a joint venture agreement with TechBase Solution Sdn Bhd. The joint venture would enable Y-Lai to specialise in the provision of blockchain and system integration services.

Yi-Lai has been relatively low profile and out of investors’ radar over the years, despite its strong fundamentals and sturdy balance sheet. Prior to 2015, Au said Yi-Lai was a high dividend yield company.

“With the new management team in place, I hope to attract more investors to put in faith in us, and together, we will create sustainable long term value and be able to return to a high dividend yield company to reward our shareholders, ” Au said.

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