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Did Bumiputra-Commerce Over-Paid for Southern Bank?



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May 21 2007
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Reuters reported that Malaysia’s second-largest lender, Bumiputra-Commerce Holdings Berhad (KLSE: COMMERZ, stock-code 1023), has hired PricewaterhouseCoopers to review the 2005 financial statements of its unit Southern Bank Bhd. It was one of the watch-after “hostile” takeover of Southern Bank Berhad (one of the most profitable and well-managed Chinese-based banks) by CIMB Group whose chief executive officer, Datuk Nazir Razak is also the brother of current Deputy Prime Minister, Najib Razak.

The probe, which comes almost nine months after it took over Southern, will determine if the accounts provide a true and fair view of the state of affairs of the Southern Bank group, Bumiputra-Commerce said in a statement on Monday. It was reported that the PwC was hired about four months ago. Stock price of Bumiputra-Commerce fell on the report, dropping 2.5 percent to 11.60 ringgit as investors, burnt in recent weeks by news of financial irregularities in other listed companies, dumped shares of the state-controlled lender.

“The exercise currently undertaken by PwC is to establish whether Southern’s 2005 financial statements show a true and fair view of its state of affairs as at that date in light of the findings from our subsequent due diligence review and completion audit” – said Bumiputra-Commerce. Well, since you’re so eager to take over the bank, you’ve to pay hefty premium for it, don’t you think so? Or maybe Nazir realized he made a mistake and the new debts do not justify the acquisition?

Could this spell another episode of accounting irregularities? Maybe Nazir thought he has over-paid for the hostile takeover of Southern Bank and now is using accounting irregularities to seek “justice”. Wouldn’t it be nice to see the face of this young billionaire should there be irregularities? I’m sure the stocks will be dumped further. Or it could just be a plot to push down the price of Bumiputra-Commerce so that someone can scoop the stocks at a much lower price before declaring the accounting-data is crystal clean. By doing so, the price will recovers and the traders (insider?) will make handsome gains. Hey, don’t forget the general election is around the corner and lots of money is needed for the campaign.

# TIP: Do not pick-up Bumiputra-Commerce shares yet.

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