Sime Darby agrees to acquire 30% of E&O

Sime will buy the shares from two parties, believed to be GK Goh Holdings and the wife of Tan Sri Wan Azmi Wan Hamzah.

Conglomerate Sime Darby Bhd has agreed to buy 30 per cent of Eastern & Oriental Bhd (E&O), a developer with large projects on Penang island, sources said.

Sime will buy the shares from two parties, believed to be GK Goh Holdings Ltd and Puan Sri Nik Anida Nik Manshor, the wife of Tan Sri Wan Azmi Wan Hamzah.

Based on the latest Bursa Malaysia filings, Nik Anida has an indirect stake of 11.86 per cent while GK Goh Holdings Ltd holds another 11.23 per cent.

Sources said E&O will also issue new shares to Sime. In total, Sime is expected to own 30 per cent of the property developer.

"It is unsure how much the deal is worth. But rumour was that Sime wanted to buy at more than RM2, but the sellers then were not willing to sell. With the current global economic landscape, they may have changed their minds," said a source.

The deal will allow Sime to recognise part of E&O's earnings, but more importantly, it gives Sime the opportunity to take part in the much talked-about Seri Tanjung Pinang 2 project.

That project involves reclaiming 740 acres of land in Tanjung Tokong to develop two islands for mixed development projects. The project has an estimated gross development value (GDV) of RM12 billion.

Yesterday, trading in E&O and GK Goh Holdings Ltd shares were suspended. However, Sime shares were not halted.

Shares of E&O rose 1.4 per cent on Thursday to RM1.45. Over the past 30 days, its shares closed at a high of RM1.70 and a low of RM1.38. On average, it was traded at RM1.38, with a volume of 10.6 million shares daily.

Sime stocks ended unchanged at RM8.80.

Since May, major shareholders of E&O have been accumulating the stock. During the period, Nik Anida has expanded her indirect stake to 11.86 per cent from 9.09 per cent.

AmBank group chairman Tan Sri Azman Hashim had also been on a shopping spree during the period. He raised his stake to 6.25 per cent from 5.1 per cent. - By Goh Thean Eu (Business Times)

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