KUALA LUMPUR (April 23): Lim Seong Hai Sdn Bhd (LSH), an investment vehicle of Ekovest Bhd’s managing director Tan Sri Lim Keng Cheng, has trimmed its stake and ceased to be a substantial shareholder in the construction group.
LSH sold 20.09 million shares on the open market today, according to a bourse filing. It is left with 108.36 million shares, or a 4.02% stake in Ekovest. Based on the closing price of 46.5 sen, the block of share is valued at RM50.38 million.
In its annual report for the financial year ended June 30, 2020 (FY20), LSH held 134.61 million shares or a 4.99% stake as of Sept 30, 2020.
LSH’s share sale would mean that Datuk Lim Keng Guan, Lim Pak Lian, Lim Keng Hun and Keng Cheng also ceased to be substantial shareholders with less than 5% equity interest in Ekovest.
Keng Cheng is the nephew of Ekovest’s executive chairman Tan Sri Lim Kang Hoo.
Other members of Kang Hoo’s family on the board of Ekovest include the tycoon’s sister Datuk Lim Hoe, who is an executive director at the company.
Hoe’s son, Wong Kai Shiang, serves as her alternate director. Wong is Keng Cheng’s cousin. Kang Hoo’s son Lim Chen Thai is also an executive director of Ekovest.
Chen Thai, Keng Cheng and Wong are cousins.
According to its FY20 annual report, Kang Hoo is the group's largest shareholder with a 30.2% stake. He maintained a direct stake of 532.53 million shares or 19.75% and an indirect stake through Ekovest Holdings Sdn Bhd, which controls 298 million shares or 11.05% of the company's shares.
Ekovest has remained in the limelight amid the few proposed corporate exercises that were linked to its sister company Iskandar Waterfront Holdings Sdn Bhd (IWH) and Iskandar Waterfront City Bhd (IWC).
IWH is owned by Credence Resources Sdn Bhd (63.13% stake) and Johor State’s Kumpulan Prasarana Rakyat Johor Sdn Bhd (36.87%).
Kang Hoo holds a 90% stake in Credence Resources, while his sister Hoe and nephew Keng Cheng hold 5% each.
Just three weeks ago, Ekovest announced it revived the proposed land purchase deal, which had fallen through last month.
Under the latest proposal, Ekovest will buy 38.96 ha (96.27 acres) of freehold land in Pulai, Johor for RM944.62 million from IWH compared with RM1.11 billion previously.
The revived deal has prompted some quarters to wonder whether the minority shareholders of Ekovest would give the greenlight this time round.
To recap, in March 2018, Ekovest’s minority shareholders rejected the proposal to take public-listed Iskandar Waterfront City Bhd (IWC) private through the exchange for either RM1.50 cash per share or a one-for-one swap of Ekovest shares for IWC shares.
The proposal came after Kang Hoo aborted the merger plan between IWC and its sister company Iskandar Waterfront Holdings Sdn Bhd (IWH) in late October, 2017 — five months after TRX City Sdn Bhd terminated the contract to sell its 60% equity interest in the Bandar Malaysia project to IWH CREC Sdn Bhd for RM7.41 billion.
IWH CREC is a 60:40 joint venture between IWH and state-owned China Railway Engineering Corp (M) Sdn Bhd.
Besides land purchase, Ekovest has also ventured into the durian plantation business. It currently controls a 73.08% stake in PLS Plantations Bhd after it made a mandatory general offer.