A new star on the horizon

Increasing prominence: A file photo of Farhash. The businessman has significant stakes in multiple companies vying to modernise government services through IT.

DATUK Farhash Wafa Salvador, a loyalist of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, is the latest rising star of corporate Malaysia.

However, scrutiny of the former Perak PKR chief’s recent rise to prominence outside of politics reveals links to two well-known names in business circles, notably Tan Sri Vincent Tan and Wong Thean Soon or T.S. Wong.

In particular, Farhash’s links to Wong of MyEG Services Bhd can be traced to at least three listed companies – Excel Force MSC Bhd, Heitech Padu Bhd and Cuscapi Bhd – where he is a major shareholder.

Interestingly, the 42-year-old Farhash became a key shareholder in the three companies all within a week.

Such a meteoric rise has raised many questions, one of which is why Farhash chose to be involved in companies linked to billionaire entrepreneur Wong.

Therefore, the sight of Wong and Farhash – Anwar’s former political secretary – being key shareholders of the same companies has turned heads among analysts and investors.

In addition, Farhash’s stake in Excel Force, HeiTech and Cuscapi also puts his true net worth under the microscope.

This, of course, does not include his ownership in other listed companies like Theta Edge Bhd and other unlisted entities.

A Pakatan Harapan source tells StarBizWeek that Farhash is indeed wealthy given his prior entrepreneurial background.

According to publicly available profiles of Farhash, he is said to have over more than a decade’s worth of experience in business, consultancy and advisory.

Multiple biographies about the businessman on multiple websites state: “On the business front, his illustrious career spans a broad range of sectors which include construction, technology, hotels, and food and beverage. Mr Farhash is a multi-talented innovator with five award-winning patents held across the world, including the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany and China.”

Farhash did not respond to efforts by StarBizWeek to contact him.

Meanwhile, when contacted, Wong did not directly respond to questions about Farhash’s emergence in companies linked to him.

However, he noted that he is not in an executive position in the companies apart from MyEG. Wong also says that there are no merger and acquisition plans in the pipeline among the companies at the moment.

“Any collaboration between the companies is to be decided by the respective management teams.

“Nonetheless, there are obvious synergies between these businesses as they are all involved in information technology (IT) and in the process of transitioning to the next-gen Web3 architecture,” he says.

How it began

Farhash owns a stake of 15.91% in HeiTech, 1.43% in Cuscapi and 0.95% in Excel Force via his private vehicle Rosetta Partners Sdn Bhd. He has another 0.89% stake in Excel Force directly under his name.

StarBizWeek combed through a number of filings with the Companies Commission of Malaysia (CCM) and found that Farhash became the director of Rosetta Partners last week on March 11.

A day later on March 12, Rosetta Partners mopped up a 15.91% stake in HeiTech, a company said to be in the running to develop the National Integrated Immigration System project, which is understood to be worth over RM1bil.

This made Rosetta the single-largest shareholder of the company, with a stake of just 0.02 percentage points more than MyEG Capital Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of Wong’s MyEG Services.

Interestingly enough, MyEG Capital also emerged in HeiTech this month on March 7, the same day HeiTech announced it had secured a 12-month contract extension worth RM13.1mil to provide maintenance services to the Malaysian Immigration System (MyIMMs).

HeiTech aside, Rosetta Partners has already had stakes in Cuscapi and Excel Force for the past several years.

At that time, Rosetta Partners was wholly owned by Datuk Jayakumar Panneer Selvam, a close associate of Wong.

Some 15 years back, Jayakumar served as the managing director of MyEG Integrated Networks Sdn Bhd, which is the 40%-owned unit of MyEG Services.

Currently, Jayakumar is the chairman of Cuscapi, having been in the position since June 2018.

A CCM filing on March 16 showed that Rosetta Partners was acquired by Mfivesouthsea Sdn Bhd, a RM2 company jointly owned by Farhash (50%) and Sultan Muhammad V of Kelantan (50%).

The purchase gave Farhash and his business partner, Sultan Muhammad V, immediate entry into Cuscapi and Excel Force, both of which are listed on the Main Market of Bursa Malaysia.

It is not uncommon for Malaysia’s sultans to own key shareholdings in Malaysian listed companies.

For example, Sultan of Pahang Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah has a stake of 9.91% each in Citaglobal Bhd and Microlink Solutions Bhd.

Meanwhile, His Majesty Sultan Ibrahim, King of Malaysia has a 17.34% equity interest in Redtone Digital Bhd and a 12.35% stake in Berjaya Assets Bhd.

His Majesty also owns almost a quarter of Berjaya Group’s telecommunication arm UMobile, which has become Malaysia’s third-largest mobile network operator after the Celcom-Digi merger.

As for Rosetta Partners, the company was sold to Mfivesouthsea by a company called HDA Tech Sdn Bhd.

HDA Tech is wholly owned by Farhash.

Based on a CCM filing, the date of change in shareholding was March 16.

Oddly enough, HDA Tech had only bought Rosetta Partners several days earlier from Jayakumar. The date of change in shareholding for this transaction was March 11.

Rosetta Partners’ link to Wong goes beyond his personal ties with Jayakumar.

In fact, MyEG Services’ moneylending arm – MyEG Finance Technologies Sdn Bhd – loaned RM100mil to Rosetta Partners in March 2018.

The loan, which remains outstanding, was provided with 12 million Cuscapi shares as collateral, according to the company-charge filing with CCM.

The Vincent Tan link

Meanwhile, two companies related to Tan have appointed Farhash to their board of directors.

They are Berjaya Construction Bhd, the construction arm of Berjaya Land Bhd, and 7-Eleven Malaysia Holdings Bhd.

In the case of 7-Eleven, Farhash also replaced Tan’s son Datuk Seri Robin Tan Yeong Ching as chairman on Jan 3, 2023.

Interestingly, the appointment was made eight days after Farhash was named the chairman of stockbroking firm Apex Equity Holdings Bhd.

Apex Equity is 15.78% owned by Fun Sheung Development Ltd, which is believed to be the private vehicle of the late Lim Siew Kim, daughter of the late Tan Sri Lim Goh Tong of Genting Group.

Overall, following Farhash’s rapid rise in corporate Malaysia, notably after the 2022 general election, all the companies related to him will be on the radar of investors, especially with regard to government contracts.

The recent transactions indicate that Farhash has a liking for companies involved in technology.

Excel Force is an established provider of software systems for broking companies and it was previously rumoured to be eyeing a contract to develop an alternative trading system in Malaysia.

The proposal was the brainchild of the Datuk Seri Najib Razak administration.

Cuscapi is a provider of point-of-sale systems and also owns the Electronic Dealer Management System (EDMS), a web-based application which connects vehicle assemblers, distributors, and dealers with government agencies such as Customs and Road Transport Department.

HeiTech is also an IT player and has secured multiple government contracts in the past servicing the Health Ministry, the Road Transport Department and the Immigration Department, to name a few.

According to The Straits Times, Farhash and his partner also own a stake of 4.97% in Theta Edge. This information was revealed by Farhash himself, adding that the stake was acquired on March 13.

Theta Edge is also said to be among the top contenders for the Immigration Department’s National Integrated Immigration System project, which is also being eyed by HeiTech.

Going forward, as the government puts more emphasis on digitalising its services, IT-related companies will be leading beneficiaries of contract awards.

In the case of MyEG, which is also involved in Web3 infrastructure via Zetrix, Wong says its role in providing government-related services will remain relevant for the foreseeable future, although the nature of the services themselves may evolve.

“Our focus for Zetrix is not just Malaysia but the international market.”

Nevertheless, one should note that the government is also trying to develop IT services in-house without heavy reliance on external parties.

For example, the National Central Database System (Padu) is fully constructed and managed by civil servants.

Similarly, the Road Transport Department’s MyJPJ mobile application is also believed to have beem designed with in-house expertise. The app allows, among other things, the renewal of driving licences, a service that was previously only offered digitally by MyEG Services.

Beyond the public sector, the rapid digitalisation in private-sector services also opens huge opportunities for IT-related companies, including those that Farhash has stakes in.

Perhaps Farhash is more keen on such opportunities unlike what is speculated in the media and looks to ride on Wong’s years of experience in the digital space.

Wong tells StarBizWeek that his companies are first-movers in the transition from Web2 to Web3.

The transition from Web2 to Web3 is similar to the transition from 3G to 5G, where the user experiences is similar but the back engine is running on a new architecture that enables data to become digitised assets with unique ownership.

“The transition to Web3 is happening really fast right now and most government services in countries like China are now all on Web3.

“It is a matter of time before other governments similarly adopt it because the benefits are too significant to be ignored,” says Wong.

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