Something is brewing in Iskandar Investment Berhad (IIB).
And, it is not good for Khazanah CEO, Tan Sri Azman Mokhtar (Amokh), whose got his hand burned for using it as lid to cover the steam from usurping out of a couldron of boiling hot soup of the failed Medini project.
Something happened and he went amuck. Amokh went amuck. Rhymes well, isn't it?
In the case of MAS, Dato Tengku Azmil was made the scapegoat for his failed WAU in his so-called attempt to turnaround the company.
At IIB, Erlida Ariff, Rostam Razali and the other four former senior management are only preliminary fall guy. The real fall guy has yet to be identified. But one of the six is already going around claiming: "In IIB, you don't decide. Just wait for wahyu (God's commendement) from Kuala Lumpur."
The Medini project does not benefit Johor and will be another of Amokh's series of failed deals and investments.
Who has he lined up as his fall guy this time around?
Two letters to the editor by Rakyat Johor Prihatin and Pembayar Cukai was published by Utusan Malaysia on January 30th, 2012 and February 3rd, 2012, respectively with regard to Iskandar Investment Berhad (IIB)'s Medini project.
The questions were answered later on February 8th issue by a Senior Vice President of Khazanah Nasional Berhad (Khazanah), Mohd Asuki Abas. [Read here] However, many pertinent questions were left unanswered.
Read Syed Akbar's past comment here and here.
What is surprising was that the questions meant for IIB were answered by Khazanah. Perhaps, it is because IIB had a new CEO as in an experienced developer, Dato Syed Mohamad Syed Ibrahim. He is still not ready to answer for IIB's past investment.
The former CEO, the publicly acclaimed young women CEO, Erlida Ariff has a bribery case pending in court against her husband. One of the five former senior executives and suspected accomplice had admitted guilty in court.
Picture (from left): Managing Director Khazanah, Tan Sri Azman Mokhtar, Executive Director, Investment, Ganen Sarvananthan dan Director TMO Khazanah, Mohd Izani AshariUpon checking around, it seems no one in IIB really knows anything on the various deals on Medini, except Khazanah CEO, Tan Sri Azman Mokhtar and Executive Director, Investments, Ganen Sarvananthan in order to answer the two letters.
There is a high possibility that a lot of crappy deals in IIB came out of from Level 33, Tower 2 of Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur.
The only one who can answer for it is Azman and Ganen.
One should wonder why would an organisation with a pyramid style corporate structure and many layered organisation chart could have the CEO and main man have their hands directly involved in a subsidiary operations.
A quick glance here would reveal that Azman was formerly Director and Head of Reearch at UBS, Kuala Lumpur. His areas of expertise is likely to be in equity market. No mention of experience in neither dealmaking nor management in an any business operations.
Whilst, Ganen is a law graduate working with an overseas branch of a big name Investment Bank. He rose to become Director of Equity at UBS Hong Kong after spending few years in corporate finance and investment.
He may be smart and had done some deals. How familiar is he with managing strategic national investment? How many economic cycle has he undergone?
Anything less than two cycles is considered wet behind their ears irrespective of how high they are in any organisation. Experience is the mother of wisdom. Without experience, can't expect any foresight and wisdom.
So, please don't be too overawe with big title and big name because big named Banks are generous with their titles, particularly for their overseas branches, for purpose of sales and marketing.
The proof is still in the pudding.
Talking about pudding, there is a rumour coming our of Petronas Twin Tower that there has been a slight puddle-ing around in the Board of Director of IIB.
The announcement is not out yet but the rumour claim Ganen is taken out of IIB and replaced by Hisham Hamdan, another Executive Director (Investment) in Khazanah. [Read here for his profile.]
Does the name ring a bell?
In case there is a problem with the hard disc in your brain to retrieve the information, Hisham was the failed former Executive Vice President, Strategy and Business Development of Sime Darby.
After a series of failures to takeover IJN, followed by the public uproad against Labu Airport LCC, then unable to turnaround Sime Engineering, Sime Darby cold storaged the trained Chemical Engineer to China for Special Project. See here
He was part of former Sime Darby's CEO, Dato Zubir Murshid team and together with many members of the Board of Directors including Tun Musa Hitam are accountable for the RM1 billion Qatar investment failure. Read details of the projek on Jejak Pujangga here and Bigdog here.
Only an organisation like Khazanah would maintain a reserve team of Executive Directors, Investment to back Ganen using failed executives. The failed executives include Dato Rashdan "Danny" Yusof , the former Executive Director of Mayban Investmnent Banking resigned due to staff uprising against him and failed CEO of MAS, Tangku Dato Azmil.
Like Rashdan "Danny" Yusof, Hisham has problem with his inter-human skill and come off as someone arrogant. IJN takeover and Labu Airport failed because of his inability to fathom the public response and maybe his reluctance to listen to advise from the communications team.
Hisham is seldom lost in details that he couldn't see the critical factor. He could be wasting time in senior management level meetings doing petty checking of calculation formula instead of the bigger level of strategy, implementation development and control and monitoring.
Another one of many cases in Khazanah of former Bankers and Investment Bankers that are so distanced from the world of "real" business but yet wish to manage and head businesses.
Hisham is now only warming up eggs as Director of Valuecap Sdn Bhd. To sent him to replace Ganen, it is like replacing QPR's centre forward with a centre forward from a team from the English First Division League. An equally bad if not worse choice.
Back to the Khazanah reply to Utusan Malaysia, it was noticeable that Khazanah refused to answer allegations in the two letters with regard to investment involving the two Arab investors and the deal structure of profit guarantees, flexi payments, etc.
In sync with that, there is another rumour making it's round in Khazanah with regard to IIB. Several days ago, The Star carried a column by B. K Siddhu.
Oh god, her again. Why must any business story of interest to us has her writing something on it? So happen we defended her against the violent hands of SC investigators. Bet some reader may speculate me have something working with her.
Anyway she titled her piece to give the message that the Arabs are leaving Medini and replaced by Chinese and Singaporeans.
Tuesday March 27, 2012
The Arabs are out others in, in Medini land
By B.K. SIDHU
KUALA LUMPUR: Arab investors who were originally the master developers of 2,230 acres at Iskandar Malaysia known as the Medini development will no longer be involved and about 80% of that land has since been sold to other foreign investors, including those from East Asia.
“If the Arabs are not willing to develop the land, we cannot let the project be left idle, there must be activity on the land. In fact, we had initiated this (to get other investors) who are from China, South Korea and also Japan to invest in the land,” Iskandar Investment Bhd (IIB) president/chief executive officer Datuk Syed Mohamed Ibrahim said in an interview.
He added that the Arabs “will no longer be involved in Medini, but it was good that they came (initially).”
Five years ago, Abu Dhabi's Mubadala Development Co was the leading consortium investing US$720mil (RM2.1bil) in Medini Iskandar Malaysia to jointly develop 2,230 acres. But the global crisis had thrown the Arab property world into disarray and that had somewhat slowed the development of the Medini parcel.
Hence, IIB had to get other investors, including those from Singapore, North Asia and domestic players.
Syed Mohamed(left in pic):‘The Arabs will no longer be involved, but it was good that they came initially.’ File picture shows Iskandar Investment Bhd president/CEO Datuk Syed Mohamed Syed Ibrahim (left) and UEM Land Holdings Bhd managing director/CEO Datuk Wan Abdullah Wan Ibrahim exchanging documents on Jan 10, 2011, after a signing ceremony to mark their collaboration to form a joint venture company offering security services in Nusajaya at Iskandar Malaysia, Johor. UEM an early investor is also involved in other developments in the Iskandar area.“The interest (from the foreign investors) came to our office and we facilitated the deals with the foreign investors,” he added.
But it cannot be denied that the Arabs did put in the money when Malaysia wanted foreign investors to invest in Iskandar Malaysia, which is the country's first economic corridor.
Since then, Malaysia has had investors from other parts of the world including domestic investors who had bought plots of land to develop. One of the bigger foreign investors thus far that has invested RM2bil in Medini's development is Beijing-based real estate developer, Zhuoda Real Estate Group. The Sunway Group has bought 691 acres to undertake a mixed development.
The 2,230-acre Medini development would house lifestyle and leisure development. IIB's overall land bank in Johor is 8,889 acres, of which 2,230 acres are for Medini and Legoland theme park and hotel. Nearby, there is also a educity, a wellness centre and a creative studio, UK-based Pinewood, that will be housed.
For the educity, nine universities and campuses will be sited and they include Singapore's Raffles University, University of Southampton Malaysia campus, Malborough College Iskandar Malaysia, Newcastle University Medicine Malaysia, University of Reading Malaysia and the Netherlands Maritime Institute.
IIB is 60%-owned by Khazanah Nasional Bhd, 20% each by Employees Provident Fund and Kumpulan Prasarana Rakyat Johor.
Syed Mohamed said parties from China had wanted to buy the entire Medini area, but because it would be developed into a cosmopolitan area, they had to ensure there was a mix of investors from different parts of the world.
“We have got a nice problem as far as genuine interest from potential local and foreign parties for the land is concerned. We have a suite of investors and we have no restrictions to sell the plots of land to foreigners. There is a lot of interest for land and while there is limited land out there, we are not ready to open the over 6,000 acres for sale presently,” he said.
He would rather wait for land prices to appreciate before opening the over 6,000 acres for development.
Turning to Legoland, Syed Mohamed said the theme park, sited on 76 acres, will open its doors in the fourth quarter of this year. At a cost of US$700mil, the company is also getting a water theme park because of its strict procurement process.
“For the price of one we are getting two theme parks. The water theme park will open in 2013 together with the Legoland theme park hotel,” he said.
Thus far, IIB has managed to sell 10,000 of the unlimited one-year theme park entry passes which are being offered at a special price of RM195. He is targeting one million visitors per year but has yet to promote the theme park in Indonesia, which he believes has a huge potential market.
The message of Arab leaving is consistent with the content of the two letters to the editor of Utusan Malaysia. There were something fishy and the Arab agent or so-called investors failed to deliver.
There was a slight tremor at Tower 2 of the Petronas Twin Tower when the news broke out. However there was no evacuation required.
It was just Amokh who went balistically amuck. In his anger, Amokh claimed the Prime Minister was equally angry.
But we checked. There was no such thing!
It was a lie. PM made no such reaction to the news. It was just Amokh throwing names to scare some people off.
If this was a make-up story, why would BK Siddhu made the following strange clarification the next day. Read below:
Wednesday March 28, 2012For sure, The Star editorial will not impose on their senior writers. BK Siddhu was merely obliging for IIB.
With reference to March 27 report in StarBiz headlined, “The Arabs are out,” Iskandar Investment Bhd (IIB) has clarified that:
“Our Middle East investors are still actively involved in Medini. As master developers, Global Capital and Development Sdn Bhd (led by Mubadala) and Metrogold Sdn Bhd (led by funds managed by Kuwait Finance House) would look to dispose of their land to other land developers over time.
“IIB has worked closely with our Middle Eastern partners to facilitate sales to local and other international developers in Medini. Global Capital and Development and Metrogold currently own approximately 40% of the gross floor area for the development in Medini.
“Based on progress payments, RM1.4bil has been proportionately invested by our Middle Eastern partners for their percentage ownership in the respective master development companies.’’
That clarification is indicative that something is not going right in IIB's Medini and Amokh refused to acknowledged the problems and address it.
The two developers are disposing their land, realised that?
Today is March 29th. Mark our words.
Judging by Amokh past style in hiding his failures, someone else will take the fall for his failures.
From the beginning, it was his WAU and management team under Tan Sri Mohd Nor Yusof that failed from the beginning at MAS. [Read here.] But it was Tengku Azmil that took the bump rap.
Amokh had some conscience and he is worried Tengku Azmil would squel on him. So he gave Tengku Azmil a position in Khazanah to read newspapers and have long lunches.
Hisham could be placed inside the Board of Directors to learn-up, just like Tengku Azmil was seconded to Penerbangan Malaysia Berhad first. Eventually, he would put Hisham to replace the current CEO.
But looking at his resume [read bigdog here], Syed Mohamad knows property business and has proven experience, unlike "theoretical" Azman, Ganen and Hisham. Syed Mohamad brings reputation to IIB. They have to handle him delicately.
Nevertheless, already there are rumours being spread in blog commentaries to slander the new CEO as not performing. He just joined a messed organisation only in October 2010. How can he perform when so much interference by idiots from upstairs?
Same thing happened in MAS. The Business Transformation Plan could not be executed by Dato Idris Jala because Khazanah refuse to support. It was only made worse by Idris's amateurish attempt to manipulate P&L accounts.
Probably Syed Mohamad will be pressured to leave and the real problem will blow over under Hisham. Before that, this arrogant born sucker would oblige to cover-up for Amokh.
Baik-baik kau, Hisham. Kau tak kenal budak Kolet punya main.
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