Daim denies wanting control of Media Prima

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on November 9, 2018.
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KUALA LUMPUR: Tun Daim Zainuddin, chairman of the Council of Eminent Persons, has denied that he is bidding for control of Media Prima Bhd, which he said is still controlled by Umno.

“It’s not true,” he told reporters on the sidelines of the Affin Hwang Capital Conference Series 2018 on “Building a New Malaysia” yesterday when asked if he was looking to buy a controlling stake in the media group, which has TV networks such as TV3, 8TV, ntv7 and TV9, as well as The New Straits Times Press (Malaysia) Bhd in its stable.

However, Daim conceded that the political party is looking to sell its stake in the media group, he added.

Umno is linked to a 7.96% stake in Media Prima via Singapore-registered company Altima Inc. According to the group’s 2018 annual report, another Umno-linked company, Gabungan Kesturi Sdn Bhd, owned an 11.09% stake in the group as at February 2018.

Filings with Bursa Malaysia also revealed that Morgan Stanley & Co LLC was the group’s largest shareholder with a 12.73% stake as at Oct 15, 2018, although it is unclear whom the shares are being held for.

The Employees Provident Fund, meanwhile, has been paring down its stake to 11.94% as of yesterday from 13.25% in February.

Meanwhile, Amanah Raya Bhd has surfaced as a substantial shareholder and currently has an 11.09% stake in the media group.

Daim also acknowledged that he was running Media Prima in the 1980s, but said he would not be interested in building a media empire again.

“It’s a new generation, [news is] online and on web portals,” he pointed out, noting that people today want to hear honest and frank ideas in order to stimulate debate.

“If you follow the old system [and] reports what the government wants you to report, nobody is going to buy,” Daim said.

Shares in Media Prima closed 0.5 sen or 1.22% higher at 41.5 sen yesterday, bringing a market capitalisation of RM460.32 million. Year to date (YTD), its share price has fallen 43.8%.

It is worth noting that the stock has, however, recovered 46.4% from its YTD low of 28 sen on May 15, in the week after the 14th general election.