Muhammad Ikmal exiting Widad and Dataprep?


Tan Sri Muhammad Ikmal Opat Abdullah.

PETALING JAYA: Is Tan Sri Muhammad Ikmal Opat Abdullah quietly exiting Widad Group Bhd and Dataprep Holdings Bhd, his operationally loss-making firms listed on the Main Market?

The low-profile tycoon, who once made the audacious RM5.3bil takeover bid for highway operator PLUS Malaysia Bhd, has sold close to 408 million shares in construction outfit Widad since the start of 2024.

He has also disposed of more than 28 million shares in information technology (IT) firm Dataprep in the same period.

An analyst told StarBiz that Muhammad Ikmal may have been forced to sell his shares due to margin calls, following a severe drop in the share price.

The Widad stock has plunged by almost 88% since its 2023 closing price peak of 56.5 sen. The counter closed at seven sen yesterday, with a market capitalisation of RM204.7mil.

Meanwhile, the share price of Dataprep has also tumbled by nearly 55% since its 2023 closing price peak of 26.5 sen. This brought down Dataprep to close at 12 sen yesterday, with a market capitalisation of just RM85mil.

Margin calls are triggered when the value of shares bought using borrowed funds from the brokerage firm falls below a certain level, known as the maintenance margin.

This would require the account holder to deposit additional cash or securities to meet the margin requirements, or sell the shares.

When contacted by StarBiz, a spokesperson of Muhammad Ikmal confirmed that the tycoon has been disposing of his shares due to margin calls.

However, the spokesperson pointed out that Muhammad Ikmal is “definitely still in control” at Widad.

“(He) is looking to strengthen the company,” said the spokesperson, adding that Muhammad Ikmal is also not exiting Dataprep.

It is noteworthy that Muhammad Ikmal, a former army man, has been reducing his equity interest in Widad and Dataprep for the past few months.

Currently, his total stake in Widad stands at 20.24%, a far cry from the 75% stake he used to own at some point in 2020.

In Dataprep, his shareholding has dropped to just 6.28%, as compared to 64% in 2017.

Muhammad Ikmal gained control of Widad in 2018 when his private vehicle, Widad Business Group (WBG), undertook a reverse takeover of industrial labels manufacturer Ideal Jacobs (M) Corp Bhd and changed its name to Widad Group Bhd.

According to its website, WBG has actively participated in numerous government contracts. One of the current projects listed on the website is a half-a-billion ringgit contract to provide facilities management services to Istana Negara.

WBG is also the master developer of the RM40bil Langkasuka development in Langkawi, spanning over 1,979 acres. The project is undertaken in collaboration with a conglomerate owned by a senior member of the Abu Dhabi royal family.

It is, however, speculated that the mega project is facing construction delays, given lack of updates from Widad in recent times.

As for Dataprep, Muhammad Ikmal took over the IT firm in 2017 from Datuk Lim Chee Wah, the youngest son of the late gaming tycoon Tan Sri Lim Goh Tong.

Both Widad and Dataprep are currently deep in the red.

Widad reported its second year of operating loss amounting to RM16.06mil in the financial year ended Dec 31, 2023 (FY23).

Dataprep also continued to suffer an operating loss of RM23.41mil in FY23.

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