Sarawak tycoon tightening grip on Wijaya

This is written by my boss Francis Fernandez.

KUALA LUMPUR: Sarawak tycoon Tan Sri Ling Chiong Ho is planning a major move into Wijaya Baru Global Bhd. It is understood that the self-made businessman is attempting to lock up Wijaya’s landbank in Indonesia.

Wijaya’s Indonesian asset is 80,000 hectares of virgin jungle land suitable for planting palm oil. It had bought the assets last year for US$80 million (RM245 million). Business Times understands that at least one of the public-listed companies controlled by Ling had sent in proposals to help lock up the Indonesian assets.

The offer comes just weeks after Wijaya’s dominant stakeholder, Major (Ret) Anuar Adam, told Business Times that he was preparing for a corporate coup that will benefit all Wijaya stakeholders. Last year, Anuar bought a 32 per cent stake in Wijaya from Datuk Tiong King Sing at 95 sen a share.

It is understood that Miri-based Shin Yang group, one of Sarawak’s fastest growing conglomerates, is proposing a venture with Wijaya, whereby it will bear the entire cost of felling the virgin jungle as well as setting up an integrated timber complex.

Wijaya currently has a felling licence from the Indonesian government to cut down trees in the concession area before converting the area into an oil palm plantation. Under the proposal, Wijaya will have a substantial stake in the integrated timber complex. As for the trees felled, Shin Yang is proposing to pay just under US$13 (RM40) for every 30 cubic meters.

Ling controls 55.03 per cent of the public-listed Shin Yang Shipping Corp via the privately-held Shin Yang Holdings Sdn Bhd. Shin Yang owns a fleet of 285 vessels, which helped ship some 1.36 million cubic meters of timber products, its latest annual report showed.

Shin Yang group, meanwhile, owns four plywood mills in Miri. It is regarded as one of Asia’s leading exporters of wood products.

Sarawak Oil Palms Bhd (SOP), meanwhile, is proposing a joint venture to help plant the felled jungle with palm trees, a venture that could eventually cost some US$100 million (RM306 million). Ling controls 29.15 per cent  in SOP via Shin Yang Plantation Sdn Bhd. Additionally, Ling also has a 7.16 per cent direct stake in the public-listed company.

On Bursa Malaysia yesterday, Wijaya closed 2.5 sen lower to 71.5 sen with 392,400 shares traded.

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