Thursday, April 16, 2015

See to CM: Get DUN’s nod before selling ‘golden goose’ Sacofa

Posted on April 16, 2015, Thursday

See (left) fielding questions from reporters. With him is PKR Mambong Branch Youth chief Musa Ngog.
KUCHING: PKR Sarawak is urging Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem to seek the approval of the Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUN) before selling ‘golden goose’ Sacofa Sdn Bhd to public listed Cahya Mata Sarawak (CMS).

Its vice chairman, See Chee How, opined that Sacofa was a prized telecommunication infrastructure company and thus it was pertinent for the chief minister to inform DUN about the proposed disposal of 50 per cent of its equity in the company to CMS.

“This is to keep up with the state government’s pledge to uphold integrity in its administration,” said See, Batu Lintang assemblyman, at a press conference here yesterday.

The state government has a 70.5 per cent shareholding in Sacofa, through State Financial Secretary Incorporated, while Yayasan Sarawak holds 6.8 per cent equity, Celcom Axiata Bhd (15.1 per cent), and Sarawak Information Systems Sdn Bhd (7.6 per cent).

See wondered whether the state government had made known to companies or corporations that are owned or substantially-owned by Sarawakians about its intention to sell part of its equity in Sacofa – a highly profitable firm that has monopoly in installing mobile network facilities, including the construction of towers and structures, and lease them to telco companies.

He also questioned whether the sale of Sacofa – which has erected more than 600 telecommunication towers across the state – involved a tendering process.

On Sacofa’s financial standing, See said in 2012 and 2013, it registered revenues of RM155.28 million and RM153.41 million respectively.

For 2012, its profit before tax was RM84.59 million and profit after tax was RM66.93 million. The following year, its profit before tax was RM62.77 million and profit after tax was RM51.64 million.

See described the proposed RM186.79 million deal for a 50 per cent equity in Sacofa, as announced by CMS on April 2, as an extremely good deal for the company, but at the expense of the state.

“With Sacofa’s net profit at 33 per cent of its revenue every year, the purchase price of the 50 per cent equity based on earning amounting to seven times is certainly too low.

“This is because the shares of other telco infrastructure companies that have earnings in the single digits are trading at more than 30 times on Bursa Malaysia.”

See, a lawyer, opined there was no reason for the state government to sell one of its most lucrative business ventures so cheaply to a substantially private-owned public company.

“What is the rationale behind disposing this business that is making money for the state all these years? Will Sacofa’s monopoly of installing mobile network facilities end after the concession of 20 years expires in 2022?

“The Sarawak state government has reared or brought up a goose from its hatch with Sarawakians’ public money and now that the goose is laying golden eggs, the state government has decided to share the golden eggs with others and lose the state’s controlling interest in the goose that lays the golden eggs!

“Not only does it not make good business sense, the chief minister, who is also the Finance Minister and Yayasan Sarawak chairman, is facing a huge test of maintaining his pledge of integrity for his administration if he allows this deal to go through, in the terms announced by CMS.”

See said it was disheartening that the state government had kept quiet ever since CMS indicated its interests to acquire Sacofa last year, followed by a concrete deal filed with Bursa Malaysia announced on April 2.

“The chief minister has pledged to uphold the interests of the state and people and also to ensure integrity of his state administration since he took office 14 months ago.

“However, it appears the state administration might fail when it comes to the crunch or moment of truth … that he has no real control of the administration or maintain the integrity beyond political rhetoric.”

Since Sacofa is substantially owned by the state, funded by the state, and parcels of land were given freely to the company, See hoped Adenan would explain to all Sarawakians the rationale for its proposed disposal of Sacofa.

Read more:

No comments: