Sime Darby set for revamp after Q4 loss

Sime Darby Bhd, a merger of three entities just three years back, is set to be restructured again to improve governance after the conglomerate posted its second straight quarterly loss.

It will have six subsidiaries based on its core businesses that will have their own board of directors. The plan is to have it up and running as early as January 1 2011.

"The board of directors has given its endorsement to restructure the group for better accountability and to strengthen governance," acting president and group chief executive Datuk Mohd Bakke Salleh said at a media briefing in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Sime Darby posted a net loss of RM77.35 million in its fourth quarter to June 30 2010. It had to make a further provision of RM773.3 million at its energy and utilities division.

The extra provision was for cost overruns at the Bulhanine and Maydan Mahzam installation project with Qatar Petroleum, the Maersk Oil Qatar (MOQ) project and the building of vessels for the MOQ project.

Provision for the full year, which includes those three projects and works for the Bakun hydroelectric station, totalled RM2.09 billion. This brings its full-year net profit to RM726.8 million, which is way below the RM1.7 billion that analysts had expected. Revenue improved to RM33 billion from RM31 billion in fiscal year 2009. Bakke said he did not expect Sime Darby to make further provisions based on the information that it has right now.

Earlier in the year, Sime Darby said it had no plans to sell any of its core businesses. But this may change. "We are assessing some of these investments. Once we are in a position to conclude that we should not hang on to some of these businesses, the appropriate decisions will be made."

Four months ago, Sime Darby asked its group chief executive officer Datuk Seri Ahmad Zubir Murshid to go on leave pending an internal probe into the energy and utilities division's losses. Zubir's contract expires on November 26.

Yesterday, group chief operating officer Datuk Abd Wahab Maskan said that Zubir was still on the payroll. "Technically, he is still on a leave of absence. He is still president and chief executive officer of Sime." It is understood that Zubir receives an annual salary of RM2 million.

Bakke was appointed acting president and group chief executive effective July 15 this year.

Meanwhile, chief financial officer Tong Poh Keow said that Sime Darby's capital expenditure for fiscal year 2011 will be about RM5.4 billion, which is about the same as the previous year's.

In separate filings to the exchange yesterday, Sime Darby said that Tan Sri Amar (Dr) Tommy Bugo @ Hamid Bugo, Datuk Seri Lim Haw Kuang and Sreesanthan Eliathamby had been appointed as independent and non-executive directors. Lim was previously the chairman of Shell Malaysia, while lawyer Sreesanthan is a partner at Kadir, Andri & Partners.

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