The exercise involved:
Although the asset sale plan would provide a lifeline for the national carrier, it is nothing more than double government bail-out of MAS after the outrageous RM1.79 billion buy-back of 29.09 per cent stake in MAS from Tan Sri Tajudin Ramli’s Naluri Bhd. at the sucker’s price of RM8 per share, which was a premium of RM4.32 or 117 per cent over the closing market price of RM3.68 when the deal was signed on 20th December 2000.
Up to now, there has been no proper responsibility or accountability for such an outrageously exorbitant buy-back price paid by the public taxpayers, without any independent professional valuation, although the then Finance Minister, Tun Daim Zainuddin, had blithely and irresponsibly told Parliament in March last year that MAS was worth RM15 per share!
Equally disturbing is the Business Times report that the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) has bought 6.47 million of MAS shares, about a fifth of all the airline’s shares traded in the open market last month. As a result, EPF owns more than 12 per cent of the airline — third-largest shareholder.
It has been reported that EPF may have spent up to RM18 million to buy the shares last month. Filings made available by the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange showed that EPF bought the shares in three tranches on December 4, 12 and 21. EPF could have bought more shares as the filling of any such transactions would only be made public sometime next week.
Analysts said the purchase has helped push up the price of MAS shares. From September 11 up to the end of November last year when EPF’s interest on MAS shares were cold at best, the stock had fallen 67 per cent from RM3.40 to RM2.03 a share. EPF started buying the airline’s shares actively from December 4 up to December 21, and during the period, the shares appreciated by 40.66 per cent or 85 sen each to RM2.94 from RM2.09.
EPF should explain to the 10 million EPF members the reason for such vast investments in MAS, especially as it has lost its stock trustee status when it failed to pay a dividend in the last financial year. A company which wishes to maintain its stock trustee status will have to pay a minimum of 2 per cent in dividend yearly regardless of it registering a profit or loss.
Such EPF explanation is warranted as the EPF had in the past been used as a captive fund to help the government to bail out failing crony companies at the expense of the interests of the 10 million EPF members.