Much has been said about the sovereign risks attached to Lynas Ltd's business operations in Malaysia, which Wesfarmers Ltd seems happy to assume as part of its proposed acquisition of Lynas.
Lynas was on safer ground when Malaysia was still ruled by former PM Najib Razak.The election of Mahathit Mohamad as prime minister has introduced uncertainty; even though Mahathir himself is said to be supportive of Lynas' business in Malaysia, the election in May last year has brought
into power a number of parties who have consistently opposed Lynas' in Malaysia.
At 94 Mahathir's demise due to death or ill health is highly probable, and if as many in Australia expect the so-called Prime Minister in waiting Anwar Ibrahim replaces him, Wesfamers may well be then subject to a more friendly regulatory regime in Malaysia due to two reasons.
First, Anwar is expected to form an alliance with Najib to secure his position as prime minister, and secure a succession that would favour his family. Second;Anwar is considered a friend of Australia ,while Mahathir is not;and in that context can be expected to do what he can to ensure that Australian interests in Malaysia are protected. An ageing Anwar is fast running out of of friends overseas,and can be expected to do what he can to keep those he has.
Therefore, Wesfarmers may well be betting t on Mahathir's death; buying low now when Lynas remains under a cloud;and expecting that the value of its investment will rise rapidly once Mahathir is gone,and Lynas is returned to the position it was in when Najib was prime minister. Lynas' operations are located in the State of Pahang,which remains a Najib stronghold.