Malaysia Dateline

Investigate the BHIC shares price manipulation

Murphy’s law has captured the worst imagination in the throes of BHIC shares price manipulation. The unthinkable has happened, and in the worst of times.

From the shocking announcement by Bursa Malaysia on 22 April, Patriot is very disappointed that Urusharta Jamaah Sdn Bhd has recently disposed off about 1.2 million shares of Boustead Heavy Industries Corporation (BHIC) Bhd in the open market.

This is despite our statement on 11 April urging that BHIC must be protected because the company is intrinsically valuable to the military and its potential for mega profits. Patriot feels the matters of BHIC could have been better managed in several aspects. This includes the disposal of the shares if there really is a need, but none.

In December 2018 Urusharta, a company fully owned by the ministry of finance, issued RM19.6 billion Sukuk Murabahah for the assets of Tabung Haji, which included 18.6 million BHIC shares bought at RM2.50 per share. It has a 10-years tenure at 4.1% per annum.

Now, barely one and half years, some 1.2 million BHIC shares were disposed last week at about 70 sen or less. With eight and half years remaining, and selling at a RM1.80 loss per share, it is sheer stupidity.

Eight years is a long time for shares price of a good company to turn around. The current Covid-19 pandemic that is partly responsible for the depressive stock market is not going to last forever. In fact, to boost the BHIC shares price, LTAT (Armed Forces Fund Board) needs to just make an announcement that a portion of the RM 1.4 billion Mindef-approved variation orders will be taken as profit and to reflect it in the BHIC quarterly report.

A 20 sen dividend can also be announced for the coming AGM. Just by doing that the shares price of BHIC should fly high within days and effectively telling the predators currently at work to scramble.

Urusharta selling off the BHIC shares with a big loss in such a depressive market is like one GLC entity sabotaging another. Unwittingly Urusharta is helping the shares price manipulators to press down the price. The interest of the Mindef and LTAT, for the welfare of the military personnel, is to see the price of BHIC shares go up, not down.

The predators have been at work manipulating the BHIC shares for several months, more vigorously since early March, and all-out assaults since mid April. It is impossible for the boards of LTAT and the Boustead group, and Bursa Malaysia not to notice.

Staying quiet and doing nothing watching the shares price of BHIC battered down is a dereliction of their duties. Ultimately the defence minister is answerable and has to take responsibility for discrepancies in the armed forces welfare fund.

The final point, but not the least, on the matters of BHIC that suffers from poor management, involves Citibank. A total of 18,646,300 BHIC shares have been transferred from Urusharta Jamaah Sdn Bhd to Citigroup Nominees Sdn Bhd as custodian and fund administrator.

If selling of BHIC shares by Urusharta was really necessary, Citigroup could have sold off tranches at a prices not marked to the market, but direct negotiation for the best off-market deals. That way the market price of BHIC shares should see no negative impact. This is so basic any investment banker should know.

An example of unprofessional conduct in the disposal of BHIC shares could be seen on Friday 17 April. At around 11.30 am large quantities, almost 420,000 shares were keyed into the Sell Q (offer prices and quantities) at 70 sen. After 2.30 pm the Sell Q volume at 70 sen increased to 805,100 shares.

It was effectively restricting the shares from transacting higher. A responsible investment banker or a fund manager would not do that. Logical assumption is that these large chunks of BHIC shares offered for sale came from Urusharta. If so, then Citigroup was being irresponsible.

Patriot wants to know why the ministries of finance and defence, and the boards of LTAT and Boustead group remain tongue-tied. Patriot encourages the generals in the military and the various veterans associations to also speak up. Patriot calls on the altruism of veterans, especially those with extra savings, to buy at any comfortable amount to support the BHIC shares.

For BHIC, the worst that could happen has happened. Enough is enough on this nonsense of possible hostile takeover and the daily illogical pressing down the price of the BHIC shares to ridiculous low.

Patriot urges the minister of defence, the management boards of LTAT and Boustead group, and Bursa Malaysia to take actions now. This is Patriot’s fourth statement on BHIC matters, and hopefully will be the last.

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The witer is President, Persatuan Patriot Kebangsaan
www.patriotkebangsaan.org.my