Eversendai hoping for a steel-clad 2022


If 2020 was supposed to be about survival, Nathan notes that this mode continued this year as the pandemic did not slow down, causing lockdowns in the countries that it operates in.

EVERY morning, Tan Sri A K Nathan looks out of the back window of his home and takes a look at the Menara 118 building, located about five km away from his home.

The executive chairman and group managing director of Eversendai Corp Bhd has a direct interest in the progress of the building, as the firm is involved in the structural steel work of Kuala Lumpur’s latest skyscraper.

At the moment, the spire of the building that was commissioned by Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB) is being installed.

Once completed, Menara 118 will be Malaysia and South-East Asia’s tallest building.

“It is progressing very well and is expected to be completed in December,” he tells StarBizWeek. The installation of the spire is one of the positives that Nathan can share in a year that has otherwise been about utmost survival more than anything else, as the Covid-19 pandemic caused economic disruptions all over the world.

Nathan says that the company was also looking at corporate exercises and getting banking facilities to support their overall growth.  “But unfortunately in March, we got badly hit by Covid and it felt as if a big pail of cold water had been poured over me.Nathan says that the company was also looking at corporate exercises and getting banking facilities to support their overall growth. “But unfortunately in March, we got badly hit by Covid and it felt as if a big pail of cold water had been poured over me.

In February of last year, just before the Covid-19 pandemic hit Malaysia, Nathan was expecting a great year where Eversendai had a RM2.8bil order book in hand.

He says that it was also looking at corporate exercises and getting banking facilities to support their overall growth.

“But unfortunately in March, we got badly hit by Covid and it felt as if a big pail of cold water had been poured over me.

“While it has not derailed my plans, it has slowed down the greater achievement of what would have been achieved,” he says.

If 2020 was supposed to be about survival, Nathan notes that this mode continued this year as the pandemic did not slow down, causing lockdowns in the countries that it operates in.

A year and a half ago, the integrated structural steel turnkey contractor had about 15,000 people on its payroll.

“If you have three or four months of lockdown, simple arithmetic can show how much money one will lose. We still have to pay salaries,” he says.

For the first half of financial year 2021, the group reported a net loss of RM12.69mil as compared to the net loss of RM36.46mil reported in the same period a year ago.

Nathan is instead now foreseeing 2022 as the year for recovery, saying that the company still has a huge order book in hand.

Its order book stands at about RM1.6bil, while its tender book totals about RM12bil.

“Clients nowadays adopt a wait-and-see approach.

“There are a lot of uncertainties and nobody is completely sure when the pandemic will die off,” he says.

The company which was established in 1984 has done business in 18 countries, and currently operates in 10 different countries.

It is recognised as a leading global organisation in undertaking turnkey contracts, delivering projects for high-rise buildings, power plants, and oil and gas upstream and downstream, among others.

It has worked on some of the world’s most iconic buildings, including the Burj Al Arab in Dubai, Al Shams Sky Tower in Abu Dhabi, the Statue of Unity (world’s tallest statue) in India, the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, and the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.

With 90% of its business conducted overseas, it currently has projects in Singapore, India, Morocco and the Middle East.

Nathan, however, says that a big challenge is getting banking facilities for overseas projects in the pipeline with Malaysian banks especially unwilling to take risks.

“I have a problem now. We are not giving up.

“We are still working out with banks overseas to try and get the support,” he says, adding that bank guarantees are becoming a big issue for a project it has in Denmark.

It should also be noted that Eversendai has total borrowings and debt securities to the tune of RM1.34bil and cash of only RM82mil.

He says that the company is planning a corporate exercise and that he wants to reduce his shareholding in it from 71% to 50%.

“I have been holding a majority stake for too long and am looking at share placements to increase liquidity in the market,” he says.

Nathan is still optimistic about future growth, saying that many countries have had to put development projects on hold for almost two years.

“There is a huge amount of opportunities going forward globally.

“Whatever projects not awarded, all that will fall in place,” he says.

He says that the number of projects in the pipeline in countries such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia are numerous, with the company looking at the possibility of setting up a fabrication plant in Saudi Arabia.

It currently has seven fabrication factories around the world, with a capacity of about 200,000 tonnes a year.

Nathan also says it is focusing on the renewable energy sector, with Eversendai delivering three off-shore wind farms in Europe in recent years.

“Our name is getting well established in the European market.

“We are getting a lot of enquiries and concluding contracts as we move forward,” he says.

As for the future of the company, Nathan says that the time is right for his son Narishnath, 38, to be redesignated as the deputy group managing director of the group.

“Even when he was 12 years old, he used to take my name card, cancel my name and write his own name,” he recalls.

Narishnath, who has been with the group since 2004, assumed the role on Oct 1.

Nathan says that he had offered the position to Narishnath two years ago, but his son declined as he wanted to succeed in the business he was managing.

“But now, I feel the time is right and he is also willing to take on the role.

“It’s a good start. I will give him the space to run the organisation and I will be in the background overseeing things.

“Once he is able to fit in and manage everything as what is needed for the group, then I will hand it over to him and be chairman.

“That’s what I want to do and I want to continue to play my role to still do the marketing and looking at the future growth,” he says.

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