Friday, April 28, 2017

Felda deal with Martua Sitorus brings back memories of Martua's involvement in the secretive Kestrel group of companies

by Ganesh Sahathevan


The Star reported this morning:

A MAJOR reshuffle is on the cards for the Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) and its plantation arm, Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhd (FGV), that could see the emergence of a new shareholder in the latter.
Felda is said to be seeking the return of the land that is currently leased out to and managed by FGV because it feels that it can extract higher returns.
At the same time, FGV is also likely to see a new shareholder emerging.
According to sources, the party is said to be an investment vehicle led by Wilmar International Ltd co-founder Martua Sitorus.
“The strategic partner may either simply acquire the shares or inject plantation assets into FGV or both.

All this brings back for this writer memories of Martua's history with the Kestel group of companies, which were meant to remain in the shadows.Here is a summary.
File Note 
ACCORDING TO A SEARCH made on 11 March 1999 at the Registrar of 
Companies, Hong Kong, the Annual Return of Kestrel Capital (HK) Pte Ltd
("Kestrel") made up to 12 January 1995, showed the issued share capital 
to be 30,000,000 ordinary shares of HK$1.00 each.  Among its prominent 
shareholders were the following:

  Kestrel Capital Investments Ltd (British Vigin Islands) 9,000,000 
  Kestrel Capital Partners (M) Sdn Bhd (Klang)            1,500,000
  Berjaya Group (Cayman) Ltd (British West Indies)        1,500,000 
  K.I.P. Inc (Republic of Liberia)                        6,000,000 
  Lim Cheok Peng (Malaysian)                              1,500,000
  Tony Tan Chong Keat (Singaporean)                       1,500,000

In its lineup of Directors were the following high profile
well-connected individuals: 

  Mokhzani Mahathir -- also Director/Shareholder of Kestrel Capital
    Partners (M) Sdn Bhd;
  Lim Eng Hock -- also Director/Shareholder of Kestrel Capital Partners 
    (M) Sdn Bhd;
  Lim Cheok Peng -- also Managing Director of Parkway Healthcare Ltd;;
  Wee Ee Chao -- also Director/Major shareholder of K.I.P. Inc and Kay
    Hian Holdings Ltd. 

     Between mid-1995 and 1996, Berjaya (Caymen) Ltd., a wholly-owned 
subsidiary of Berjaya Group Bhd (BGB) and another subsidiary, Berjaya
Equities (Caymen) Ltd, began building up a 7.2 per cent stake in Parkway 
Holdings Ltd (listed on the Singapore Stock Exchange, SES).  Tony Tan is 
the Managing Director of Parkway Holdings Ltd (PHL).  Meanwhile, PHL's
private hospital arm, Parkway Healthcare Ltd, owns among others, Mount 
Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore.  On the other hand, Wee Ee Chao's
family controls UOB, one of the largest banks in Singapore, and which
has substantial banking interests in Malaysia, hence providing the
financial connexion.  Wee's own company, Kay Hian Holdings Ltd, is
listed on the SES, and has a wholly-owned stockbroking subsidiary, Kay 
Hian Securities Pte Ltd, and where Lim Eng Hock was a remisier.

     At or about the same time, BGB gained control of Hospital Pantai 
Berhad (HPB), which is listed on the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange (KLSE).
By late 1995, BGB's stake in HPB stood at about 79 per cent.  During the
material time, HPB's share price had meanwhile shot up from the 
RM3.00-RM4.00 range to between RM15.00-RM18.00.  BGB then used HPB to
acquire a further 12.8 per cent stake in PHL, and by mid-1996, BGB
controlled 20 per cent of PHL, through HPB and BGB's Cayman Island
subisidiaries.  BGB's subsidiaries then sold their stakes in PHL and
HPB.

     By November 1996, BGB had reduced its stake in HPB to 30 per cent, 
while another of Mokhzani Mahathir's listed companies, Tongkah Holdings 
Bhd (THB) announced it had acquired 21 per cent of HPB.  Kestrel's
Director, Lim Eng Hock, was responsible for placing out BGB's shares in
HPB to investors in Singapore and Indonesia.  It is likely that he 
brokered the earlier deals between BGB, PHL, HPB and THB.

     BGB eventually sold down its stake in HPB, and which now appears to
be controlled by Mokhzani's THB.  Nevertheless, BGB's foray into HPB 
proved to have been a very profitable one, given the rise in HPB's share
price during the relevant period.  Similarly, this would have also
profited those who purchased shares in HPB and PHL in early 1995, prior 
to the deals involving these companies.  The involvement of Mokhzani,
Tony Tan and Lim Cheok Peng, and Berjaya Group (Cayman) Ltd, which
originally bought the shares in PHL, together with Lim Eng Hock, who
brokered these deals in Kestrel, prior to the finalisation of such 
deals, suggests that Kesrel was used by them as a vehicle to deal in PHL
and HPB shares on the basis of information known only to themselves at 
the material time.
 

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