The Week Ahead: Spotlight on Rosmah’s graft trial decision, FGV takeover by FELDA

This article first appeared in The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on February 15, 2021 - February 21, 2021.
The Week Ahead: Spotlight on Rosmah’s graft trial decision, FGV takeover by FELDA
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It may be a quiet week after the Chinese New Year holidays in terms of economic data, but there will be more excitement in the courts and on the corporate front.

On Thursday (Feb 18), the Kuala Lumpur High Court will deliver its decision on whether to call Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, the wife of former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, to enter her defence in relation to three counts of graft related to a solar hybrid project involving 369 schools in Sarawak or to acquit her of all charges.

The date was fixed after Justice Mohamad Zaini Mazlan heard submissions from the prosecution and defence last week. Senior deputy public prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram is leading the prosecution team.

Meanwhile, the 1Malaysia Development Bhd-Tanore trial involving Najib, which is being heard before High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah, resumes onTuesday (Feb 16). Najib is charged with four counts of abuse of power by enriching himself with RM2.3 billion of 1MDB monies and 21 counts of laundering that amount. He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

The trial last week saw several key prosecution witnesses being called up, including former 1MDB CEO Mohd Hazem Abdul Rahman and former deputy chief secretary to the cabinet Tan Sri Mazidah Abdul Majid.

On Friday (Feb 19), the Federal Court will deliver its decision on a contempt-of-court bid against news portal Malaysiakini over several comments posted by its readers. The decision, which was originally slated to be delivered on Jan 15, was postponed because of the imposition of the Movement Control Order 2.0, which took effect on Jan 13.

On the corporate front, the Federal Land Development Authority’s (FELDA) takeover offer for FGV Holdings Bhd will expire on Tuesday (Feb 16). As at Feb 5, FELDA held 2.49 billion shares, or a 68.26% stake, in FGV.

On Dec 8, FELDA announced it would make a mandatory takeover offer at RM1.30 per share to FGV minority shareholders, but added that it does not intend to maintain the listing status of the company on the Main Market. The delisting of FGV will go through only if FELDA and its associates are able to acquire in aggregate at least 90% of FGV shares.

FELDA launched the mandatory general offer after it bought a 6.1% stake from Kumpulan Wang Persaraan (Diperbadankan) and a 7.78% stake from Urusharta Jamaah Sdn Bhd for a total of RM658 million. The acquisitions increased its stake in FGV to 50.49% as FELDA and parties acting in concert with it had held 36.61% prior to that.  The public shareholding spread of FGV stood at 23.93% as at Feb 4, below the minimum requirement of 25%.

Across the Causeway, Singapore will release its January non-oil export and balance of trade data on Wednesday (Feb 17). Meanwhile, Thailand is set to release its 4Q2020 and full-year GDP growth rate on Monday (Feb 15).

Indonesia will release its export, import and balance of trade numbers for January on Monday. On Thursday, Bank Indonesia will release its interest rate decision. Economists expect the central bank to leave the key policy rate unchanged at 3.75% after making five cuts, or a total of 125 basis points, last year to help the economy weather the Covid-19 pandemic.

The US will release its retail sales data for January, as well as its industrial production data, on Wednesday. The Federal Open Markets Committee (FOMC) will release its minutes — which are often used as a guide for the likely path of future interest rates — on Thursday. Its next meeting will take place on March 4 and 5, with any changes to the monetary policy announced immediately thereafter.

Stock markets in China will be closed from Monday to Wednesday for the Lunar New Year holidays. The Hong Kong Stock Exchange will be closed on Monday and Taiwan’s stock exchange on Monday and Tuesday.

On the home front, companies slated to have their extraordinary general meetings this week include MTD ACPI Engineering Bhd and i-Stone Group Bhd, while  Kuala Lumpur Kepong Bhd (KLK) and Batu Kawan Bhd will hold their annual general meetings. KLK is scheduled to release its 1QFY2021 results on Wednesday.

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