Frankly Speaking: Misstep by a tycoon?

This article first appeared in The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on December 24, 2018 - December 30, 2018.
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Last Wednesday, Tan Sri Vincent Tan Chee Yioun held a media briefing to unveil a restructuring plan for the Berjaya group.

It involved the sale of Berjaya Corp Bhd’s (BCorp) Four Seasons Hotel and Residences Kyoto, privatising 7-Eleven Holding Bhd and Berjaya Land Bhd (BLand), as well as injecting his privately owned businesses into Berjaya Media Bhd. The massive plan would involve over RM1 billion.

Tan, the controlling shareholder and executive chairman of BCorp, said the shares of BCorp and its listed subsidiaries are substantially undervalued, and the restructuring is to take advantage of the current low prices.

The tycoon, who made a comeback late last year after retiring in 2012, made the  headlines the following day. Trading volume in BCorp shot up to 35.19 million shares last Thursday following his announcement, compared with an average of 11.74 million this year. Interest also spiked in BLand, sending its share price soaring.

However, in a surprising turn of events, BCorp’s board of directors told the stock exchange that the group was not aware of the proposed restructuring and had not deliberated any of the plans disclosed by Tan.

The plans, the board added, are just the chairman’s “personal ideas and strategies”.

Separately, 7-Eleven and BLand, whose shares ended higher last Thursday, also told the exchange that they were “totally not aware” of any delisting plan.

Investors must be puzzled. The announcements would have made those who had bought these shares break out in a cold sweat.

Tan, a seasoned corporate personality, must surely be aware of the listing rules when it comes to disseminating information. Miscommunication would be a lame excuse.

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