Jalil ‘returns’ 15m shares to BCorp patriarch as rumours rife of his quitting

ON Friday (March 18) when Abdul Jalil Abdul Rasheed tweeted on how “his priorities in life really changes” after contracting COVID-19, Berjaya Corp Bhd (BCorp) in a Bursa Malaysia filing stated that the former head honcho of Permodalan Nasional Bhd has disposed of 15 million shares via direct business transaction.

But this was not the only stock exchange filing by BCorp that day.

On the actual day of transaction on March 16 – which was exactly one year ago that Jalil created shock waves that sent BCorp shares ‘flying over the rooftop’ vis-à-vis his appointment as BCorp’s group CEO – founder and non-executive chairman Tan Sri Vincent Tan Chee Yioun also amassed a similar quantity of shares via direct business transaction.

While this latest stock market transaction between Tan and Jalil only fortified speculation of the latter’s intention to step down as head honcho of the tightly-controlled conglomerate – to return to the investment realm (as revealed by sources to theedgemarkets.com) – curiosity abound if Jalil will remain an investor in BCorp by virtue of the direct 3.32% stake or 171.57 million shares that he is still holding after his recent disposal exercise.

Jalil must have bought the shares when BCorp’s share price was on an upward spiral. On March 24 last year, BCorp in a statement said Jalil had bought 70 million shares at 28 sen each, giving him a 1.4% stake in the company (costing him RM19.6 mil).

Assuming that this represents the first chunk of BCorp shares that he bought into on his own accord to be a visionary CEO-cum-investor, the other 100 million shares would probably be acquired at 28 sen or above as BCorp soared to an intraday high of 50.5 sen – its highest level in more than six years – coincidentally on April Fool’s day last year.

But as the fireworks and fanfare started to fade amid the harsh reality of wanting to turn around BCorp in the shortest possible time creeps in, the stock eventually hit a speed bump which culminated in it halving its value to 24 sen with 3.5 million shares traded on Friday (March 18).

To be precise, Bursa Malaysia filings showed that Jalil further acquired five million shares on the open market on March 29 last year and an additional 61 million shares the following day on the open market and through direct business transactions.

Based on the transaction prices stated in the filings, Jalil would have forked out circa RM1.68 mil and RM19.99 mil on his March 29 and 30 purchases respectively. According to theedgemarkets.com’s tabulation, Jalil has spent circa RM41.27 mil on buying BCorp shares.

The coming days will be telling if indeed there is a golden handshake element in Jalil’s acquisition of BCorp shares. As for now, he is sitting on a paper loss of RM41.27 mil.

When push comes to shove, it has to be admitted that the quest to turn around BCorp which has been around for years requires super human effort as the conglomerate boasts diverse corporate culture, i.e. for its retail, gaming and telecommunications segments.

For its cumulative 1H FY6/2022 ended Dec 31, 2021, the group posted a net profit of RM41.7 mil as opposed to a net loss of RM108.66 mil in the corresponding period a year ago on the back of a slightly lower revenue of RM3.44 bil (1H FY6/2021: RM3.88 bil).

To sum up bluntly, a market observer shared with FocusM his take: “Vincent Tan is just keen to shore up BCorp market value by making use of Jalil’s networking skills to win over analysts and investment community by moving things around, do some magic and shore up finances on paper.

“He wouldn’t have given Jalil a free rein to re-organise the group. Besides, the son (Datuk Seri) Robin (Tan Yeong Ching) is still there to protect family interests. PR (public relations) exercise at best.”

Come what may, Jalil has scored a few firsts in his career thus far by being the youngest PNB CEO (aged 38 when he was appointed) despite a short eight-month stint and again – despite his short tenure – by being the first non-family member group CEO in the Vincent Tan-controlled conglomerate.

At the close of today’s mid-day trading, BCorp was down 1 sen or 4.17% to 23 sen with 14.62 million shares traded which valued the stock at RM1.25 bil. – March 21, 2022


Pic credit: Options, The Edge

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