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AWSJ: Shares of Time dotCom Slide on Trading Debut
By Leslie Lopez

14/3/2001 5:59 am Wed

[Rencana ini menyebut kemungkinan EPF dan dana awam menyokong 80% saham time dotCom (yang tidak terjual). Ketidak telusan kerajaan dalam hal ini amat mengecewakan. Kaedah perakaunan dana awam menyebabkan sukar menyuarakan bantahan kerana untung rugi hanya dikira bila ia bertukar tangan. CIMB pula enggan menjelaskan kepada siapa saham dipindahkan. Time Engineering begitu mudah menjadi syarikat bebas hutang kerana segala-galanya sudah dirancang dan ditutup muslihat dari diapa-apakan.
- Editor

The Asian Wall Street Journal
13th March 2001

Shares of Time dotCom Slide on Trading Debut



KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- Investors dumped the shares of Time dotCom Bhd. on their first day of trading, battering the biggest Malaysian stock market offering since Asia's 1997 economic crisis.

Time dotCom stock took a dive as soon as trading began on the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange, opening at 2.50 ringgit (66 U.S. cents) a share, or 24% below its initial public offer price of 3.30 ringgit. The stock ended the day even lower, at 2.43 ringgit, down 26% from its IPO price. The broader Malaysian market declined marginally, with the benchmark composite index closing down 6.37 points, or 0.9%, at 688.89.

While Time dotCom's weak debut was widely expected, market analysts are now focusing their attention on the fate of the IPO's investors and especially the underwriters, who wound up with almost 75% of the 571.7 million shares that Time dotCom offered for sale in late January.

Public investors subscribed to just 25% of the IPO.

Commerce International Merchant Bankers Bhd. -- a unit of Malaysia's second-largest banking group, state-controlled Bumiputra Commerce Bhd. -- and Perwira Affin Merchant Bank Bhd., another state-controlled bank, were the chief underwriters for the issue, which raised 1.89 billion ringgit for Time dotCom's parent company, Time Engineering Bhd.

But Malaysian banking executives and government officials privately said that as much as 80% of the IPO not purchased by the public was sub-underwritten by government agencies, including several government-managed pension funds. Among them, they said, was the huge Employees Provident Fund, to which all salaried Malaysians contribute.

Commerce International Merchant Bankers executives have confirmed that a large chunk of the Time dotCom shares were sub-underwritten. But they have declined to reveal the exact amount or the parties who purchased the stock.

Malaysian bankers said the behind-the-scenes sub-underwriting removed the risk of losses the underwriting banks would have incurred in the event the Time dotCom shares fell below their IPO price. Malaysian accounting standards require that financial institutions, including banks, value their equity holdings at current market prices, which means they must disclose any paper losses on such holdings in their quarterly financial statements.

In recent years, government pension funds have adopted a more flexible accounting approach. They value their equity holdings at cost, on the grounds that they are considered long-term investments and that the stocks' value shouldn't be dictated by volatile market swings. Under that accounting method, the pension funds only record losses or gains on their equity investments when they are sold.

The likelihood that state agencies may be holding a large chunk of Time dotCom stock reflects the malaise afflicting Malaysia's corporate sector, which has been slow to recover from the Asian crisis. It is also an indication of many investors' disdain for companies perceived as being linked politically to the Malaysian government, which critics accuse of bailing out well-connected companies.

Time dotCom, which owns an extensive fiber-optic network and operates a small cellular-phone business, is part of the sprawling Renong Bhd. group of companies. Controlled by Halim Saad, a businessman with close ties to Finance Minister Daim Zainuddin, Renong is a conglomerate that was once the business arm of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's political party, the United Malays National Organization.

Time dotCom's IPO price of 3.30 ringgit a share was set more than a year ago, at a time when telecom stocks were in vogue and the Malaysian market was in an upbeat mood. Investment analysts said that Time Engineering, of which Renong owns 46%, should have revised its IPO price if it wanted a more favorable market reception. But Time Engineering and Renong weren't prepared to do so, apparently because the companies were determined to raise enough money to reduce the group's large debt burden.

The proceeds from the IPO made Time Engineering the only debt-free telecommunications company in the country.