Selling off the Star? The plot thickens…
More talk is going on about what might be going on behind the scenes at The Star, following the chairman’s denial on Wednesday of plans for a management buyout of the public-listed publishing company, Star Publications.
Fong Chan Onn, the chairman, described Internet rumours of a buyout as “malicious” and politically-motivated, denying that there were any such plans.
The chairman is a former vice-president of the MCA, which is the majority shareholder in the company, with a 42% stake: at the current market price of about RM2.50, the investment has a market value of about RM783mil, a sharp decline from the RM1.28bln that the party paid to its investment arm Huaren Holdings in October 2010.
His denial was promptly flagged by some Star journalists as a hint of something brewing, and that the rumours might be true (in the way of the cynical adage of journalists that “it’s not true until it’s been denied”).
To further intensify speculation, an informant says that Fong and several management people are spending the weekend in Hong Kong, and suggests that this might be related to plans for the company’s future.
Among those said to be in Hong Kong are both Fong and his controversial deputy executive chairman, advertising tycoon Vincent Lee, who effectively is the boss of the company.
It was not known if group chief editor Wong Chun Wai was among them. However, Vincent’s pal Brian Martin, who is in charge of Star Metro, was said to be in the group, which possibly included some politicians and business associates.
Who owns the Star?
|Substantial shareholders||No of shares||Percentage||Post buy-back|
|Institutional and unit trusts||42,034,000||5.70%|
|Kamal M Hashim & family||1,000,000||0.13%|
|Linda Ngiam and family||893,800||0.12%|
|Wong Chun Wai||10,000|
Wednesday May 22 is the Star’s annual shareholders’ meeting. Shareholders will be asked to approve a motion to permit the company to buy back up to 10% of its shares. Shrinking the number of shares on float would slightly increase the proportional size of each substantial shareholder’s stake, as shown above.
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