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Monday, December 11, 2006

 

NST-Utusan merger (?) and etc..

Saya dah lama mengikuti perkembangan gabungan dua media Melayu Utusan-NST dan baru kali ni nak tulis di blog. Dilaporkan dalam beberapa laman-laman web bahawa hanya 5 daripada 48 anggota MT UMNO yang menyokong penggabungan ini. Siapa mereka itu? PM,TPM dan tiga yang lain? Hari ini Harakahdaily melaporkan 'Seratus peratus kakitangan Utusan menentang "penjajahan"'. Kenapa berita ini tak disiarkan dalam Utusan? Mungkin sebab Pak Lah kelihatan cenderung untuk melihat penggabungan itu menjadi kenyataan? Kenapa semacam langsung tidak kedengaran suara-suara penentangan secara total di media? Yang ada hanya umpama laporan kegusaran tentang masa depan Utusan oleh beberapa Senator dan ahli parlimen. Ataupun mungkin ulasan mereka kepada wartawan media telah dispin oleh editor, tak tahulah. Pemimpin UMNO kini kelihatan mengambil langkah berhati-hati agar tidak mendahului pendirian Pak Lah.
Terbaru, dalam Utusan Malaysia hari ini, YB Tan Sri Muhyidin Yassin berkata, UMNO akan 'tetap pertahan keunggulan Utusan Melayu'. Jawapan yang tiada ketegasan. Suara akar umbi harus diperdengarkan kepada pemimpin dengan jelas. Khairy pun kata penggabungan ini harus mengambil pandangan akar umbi. Jangan sekadar sedap cakap sudahlah. Minggu lepas di blog RockyBru, beliau mendedahkan bahawa Singapura mungkin akan mendapat kepentingan sehingga 40%! Sejauh mana kebenaran ini tak tahulah. Ikuti juga blog YB Husam Musa yang banyak menulis tentang isu penggabungan NST-Utusan ini.
Kadang-kadang tak faham, sedih saya dengar Pak Lah kata, bila ditanya tentang makin banyaknya pelaburan dan pembelian saham dan aset penting oleh syarikat-syarikat Singapura di Malaysia, jawabnya, itu menunjukkan pelabur mereka mempunyai keyakinan tinggi terhadap kita? Begitu mudah sekali? Aduh. Takkanlah sampai tahap menjual dan menggadai maruah negara, apabila aset-aset penting negara hendak dijual. Tak perlu nak dihurai panjang lebar sekali lagi di sini. Syabas kepada YB Shahrir Samad. Semalam, beliau dengan tegas membantah jika sebuah syarikat Singapura dipilih sebagai kontraktor kepada projek monorail di Johor Bahru, di mana beliau adalah wakil rakyatnya.
Bukan hendak membuat perbandingan, tetapi kita telah lihat bagaimana Amerika dulu membantah apabila sebuah syarikat Dubai hendak menguasai pelabuhan-pelabuhan strategik di Amerika atas alasan national security. Ini sangat bercanggah jika diadili dengan fahaman ekonomi kapitalis yang mereka asaskan dan laung-laungkan sendiri. Ternyatalah bahawa idea globalisasi menurut fahaman Barat hanyalah globalisasi sehala. Iaitu dari Barat ke Timur sahaja.
Satu lagi contoh yang menarik perhatian saya ialah melibatkan tokoh industri besi keluli dari India, Lakshmi Mittal. Beliau dahulu pernah mendapat bangkangan oleh beberapa negara Eropah apabila beliau bertindak hendak membeli syarikat pengeluar utama keluli di Eropah iaitu Arcelor. Awal tahun ini akhirnya beliau telah berjaya juga mengambil alih syarikat tersebut dengan diberi nama Arcelor Mittal, sekaligus meletakkan Arcelor Mittal sebagai syarikat pengeluar keluli utama dunia. Suka saya memetik petikan daripada majalah Time (edisi Nov.13 2006) yang turut memuatkan kata-kata umpama rungutan daripada Menteri Kewangan Perancis;
"This invasion by an Eastern upstart horrified Europe's old guard; French Finance Minister Theirry Breton grumbled Arcelor should have "European character."
But Indian businessmen from Hyderabad to Hong Kong proudly pointed to Mittal's success as a mark of their maturity commercial prowess.
To a nation that 150 years ago was run not by its own government but by a European business - the British East India Company - Mittal is the Indian who is beating the West at its own game. And he's got mansion (Mittal's $128Mil. Kensington Palace Garden in London) to prove it. - by Alex Perry.
Heck. That simply shows the shallow mindedness of these Europeans. It seems as if it is not ok for Asians, but when it comes to them, Westerners, it is 'globalization', or if to use the latest term by F. William Engdahl, Dollarization.
Beralih pula kepada isu penggabungan Sime Darby, Golden Hope dan Kumpulan Guthrie pula, saya kira tulisan dan pandangan Syed Munir Syed Qadri (dalam email beliau kepada Jeff Ooi), Pengerusi Yayasan Pelaburan Bumiputera, yang memiliki saham terbesar dalam Permodalan Nasional Berhad harus diambil berat. Kerisauan beliau mengenai penggabungan itu mempunyai asas yang kuat. Berikut adalah pandangan beliau dalam email bertajuk 'Pak Lah must be held responsible if merged company fails'.
As Chairman of the Yayasan Pelaburan Bumiputera which holds majority shares in Permodalan Nasional Berhad, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi would be held responsible if the merger of Sime Darby Berhad, Golden Hope Berhad and Kumpulan Guthrie Berhad does not produce results.

Worse, he will also be accused of causing the erosion of Bumiputera shareholding. This is because PNB which holds majority shares in all three companies was founded with the aim of narrowing the economic disparity between the Bumiputeras and the other races.

The Government's decision to allow the merger is mind-boggling as all three companies are making profits. These profits are used to pay dividends to Bumiputeras who purchase unit trusts issued by PNB through Amanah Saham Nasional, Amanah Saham Bumiputera etc.

If these companies are running at a loss, then a merger would seem logical. But they are profits and they pay high dividends to their shareholders including PNB (read Government and Bumiputeras)

So why then is the Government doing it? Is the Government interested in attracting foreign participation in the equity structure of this merged entity? If that is the case, then the end-losers will be the Bumiputeras. Simple logic dictates that when a foreigner buys substantial equity in a company, he would most certainly want a representation in the Board. If that happens, the Board will not be able to make any decision favouring the Bumiputeras as it will be rejected by the foreign Board member.

It is more and more evident now that our present Government is a Government of contradictions. While it says that it wants to increase Bumiputera equity from the current 18 per cent to 35 per cent as stated in the New Economic Policy, its actions suggest that it is doing the opposite – reduce Bumiputera participating in the country's economy.

Merging the three companies into a single entity promises nothing. It will be a messy affair. At the moment, these companies, maybe with the exception of Sime Darby, are focused on their core competencies. Golden Hope is a fully integrated plantation company while Guthrie concentrates on plantations and property.

Merging them into a conglomerate is akin to the age-old saying of putting all the eggs in a single basket. When the basket falls, the eggs will break. You will be left with empty shells.

The merged entity will be a mess. It will be running all sorts of businesses ranging from hospitals to tyre production to sales of heavy equipment. Perhaps, Abdullah needs to be told that conglomerates are out of fashion. Companies now focus on their core competencies. Large companies like Toyota and Microsoft ventured into other businesses unrelated to their core activities. But they failed. They are successful today because they divested their non-core businesses to focus on what they know best.

The entire merger proposal of Sime Darby, Golden Hope and Guthrie reeks of a scandal involving the Government. The Abdullah-led Government, although claiming to be more transparent then the previous Government, has not been transparent at all in this merger proposal.

So who is behind it. Already there are many speculations linking the merger idea to members of Abdullah's family. Or is it because Synergy Drive Sdn Bhd which is leading the merger exercise is headed by Nazir Abdul Razak, the brother of Deputy Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak?

Is this nepotism of the highest degree? Have we given the proposed merger another thought?

Are we going to end-up with a messy and unprofitable conglomerate. It is a scary thought. I don't think I am going to be envious of the CEO of the merged entity. I will be sympathetic.

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