Patrick Lim cuts loose from Equine Capital

Datuk Patrick Lim Soo Kit, the controlling shareholder of property developer Equine Capital Bhd, stepped down late last week as the company’s chairman and executive director.

Speculation that Lim planned to leave the company had been circulating for months, after Equine’s RM20 billion Penang Global City Centre project was shelved. Equine’s associated company Abad Naluri Sdn Bhd was given the mandate to develop the mammoth project.

Lim’s stepping down has raised yet more questions surrounding the shareholding structure of the company, including what has happened to his 29% equity stake.

The equity interest was held via private vehicles Indera Muhibbah Sdn Bhd, Perharap Sdn Bhd, Temasya Permai Sdn Bhd, Insan Mayang Sdn Bhd and Duta Kembang Sdn Bhd, as well as under his wife Datin Wong Mun Yee’s name.

In April this year, rumours had it that Equine and Lim were about to part company and a new controlling shareholder would appear. The notion was dispelled by the company, as the parties that were purportedly affiliated to Datuk Lim Siew Choon of Malton Bhd were already in the company.

There has also been many shareholder changes in the company this year.

For starters, British Virgin Islands-registered Smiling Sun Ltd ceased to be a substantial shareholder in Equine from end-May this year. The company emerged as a substantial shareholder at end-January after acquiring a 5.4% stake or 8.7 million shares. Smiling Sun upped its stake in Equine in March to 7.9% or 15.1 million shares.

Just who acquired Smiling Sun’s block is still unclear.

At the end of April, Long Ngah Mat Unah, via his vehicle Azim Raya Sdn Bhd disposed of 15.7 million shares or 8.2% in Equine and ceased to be a substantial shareholder. His equity could have been taken over by privately held Jasa Lumayan Sdn Bhd, which emerged as a substantial shareholder with the same number of shares that Azim Raya had disposed of.

Checks with the Companies Commission of Malaysia (CCM) revealed that Jasa Lumayan’s directors were Wee Beng Aun and Lee Kian Jin, and together with one Suanto Ng, the three controlled 98% of the company.

However, a mere two days later Jasa Lumayan ceased to be a substantial shareholder and Istima Permata Sdn Bhd emerged with a 10.8% stake, or 20.8 million shares.

CCM’s corporate information showed that Istima Permata’s shareholders and directors are Ng Ah Pong and Teng Mee Leng. However, two individuals, Goh Chee How and Wong Wing Fatt, were said to have a stake in Istima Permata, according announcements on shareholding changes to the Bursa Malaysia.

Both Teng and Ng were also minority shareholders in Jasa Lumayan with 1% each. Wee from Jasa Lumayan was also a director of Domain Resources Sdn Bhd, which is a wholly owned unit of Malton. This was what sparked rumours of Malton’s chieftain Siew Choon entering Equine.

With Lim leaving his executive position, what lies in store for Equine is not clear.

Equine’s main assets are its land banks in Selangor and Penang, which according to the company’s latest annual report have a net book value in excess of RM350 million.

For the first three months of its financial year ending March 31, 2009, Equine posted a meagre net profit of RM26,000 on the back of RM28.3 million revenue. For the corresponding period a year earlier Equine netted RM575,000 profit on RM19.3 million revenue.

The new faces at Equine are executive director Othman Mohammad and chairman Datuk Seri Tengku Ahmad Shah Sultan Salahuddin.

by Jose Barrock (The Edge Daily)

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