MPs grill Maybank CEO – let the worms come wriggling



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May 30 2008
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Even if Maybank or some other hidden hands in this matter would eventually pull it through, the real reasons for paying exorbitant price for Indonesian PT Bank Internasional Indonesia (JAK: BNII) should be revealed to the public especially the stock investors. At least investors who are thinking of going into the river of Maybank be warned of the potential risks of getting their body parts snapped off by crocodile or piranhas. I’ve since put up a sign-board at the river bank that says “Beware of BN”, in case the attractive stock price got me seduced.

I can’t recall when was the last time Members of Parliament were so enthusiastic in grilling chief executive of a corporate organization. Perhaps it didn’t ever happen considering the government had never (since 1969) lost their precious two-third majority and hence strong voice before. Malayan Banking Berhad’s (KLSE: MAYBANK, stock-code 1155) new CEO, Wahid Omar, just joined the company and sympathizers might argue that he knows nut about the whole transaction but this argument is not strong enough to sweep the RM3 billion over-paid money under the carpet.

BII HQAssuming RPK was crazy to suggest the US$2.7 billion acquisition consists of RM3 billion hanky-panky elements, it didn’t take a rocket scientist to point his finger at the extraordinary 4.6 times book value as another proof of how retarded the country was in making good business decision, let alone fighting for an island at the international arena. Sure, the country recorded about $124 billion in foreign exchange reserve as at the end of Apr 2008 and Maybank has roughly $11 billion (RM36 billion) but that was due primarily to high savings practiced by the people themselves.

During the grilling process, Wahid was reported to admit that the acquisition price was at the top end. He also denied that the advisor in the transaction was EMC Libra. There was also doubt as to whether Maybank would breach the SPP as CIMB Group already had a presence in Indonesia. But the cream of the whole transaction is – did Maybank bid alone all this while? Some MPs threatened to show documents that allegedly showed the bid was by Maybank alone and if it’s true then the Maybank shareholders were being taken for a ride again.

Wahid could not explain why the other two banks, Bank of China and HSBC, withdrew from bidding despite the difference of only 5 (five) rupiah between Maybank and Bank of China – 510 rupiah and 505 rupiah. Get the former CEO Amirsham, acting CEO Aminuddin and the whole boards involved in the decision-making on the grilling board. Peoples’ interest particularly the minority shareholders are at stake so open up the cans regardless of how many worms are inside. Last thing we want is another financial scandal big enough to collapse the biggest lender of Malaysia.

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