shareholding changes

Sarawak to buy more Affin Bank shares

DANIEL KHOO

KUALA LUMPUR: The Sarawak state government will soon raise its stake in Affin Bank Bhd to be a more significant shareholder in the bank.

The negotiations are still ongoing and the shareholding changes will be announced in due course, taking into consideration Bursa Malaysia regulatory requirements, said Sarawak Premier Tan Sri Abang Johari Openg.

He was speaking at a press conference hosted by Affin Bank here yesterday.

The Sarawak state government now has a 4.796% stake in Affin Bank since it surfaced in April 2023 through a direct business transaction with Lembaga Tabung Angkatan Tentera (LTAT) then.

“We have made an official announcement on Bursa Malaysia before that among the major shareholders of Affin – Sarawak state government as well as LTAT – they are negotiating a transaction.

“Once this is finalised, an announcement will be made either by the Sarawak state government or Affin Bank,” said Affin Bank president and group chief executive officer Datuk Wan Razly Abdullah.

Johari said the Sarawak state government has held stakes in other banks before such as in Bank Utama and Wah Tat Bank.

“Our stakes were swallowed (absorbed) when there was a policy to merge these banks. Now we feel that we need a bank to boost the small and medium enterprises and also the business activity in Sarawak while we also have some capital to spare,” Johari said.

“We want to look at a bank as a way to park our investments – a bank will be able to boost our capital outlay and that’s why we want a bank.

“Since Affin Bank is a listed entity, we will have to comply with Bursa Malaysia regulations as well but we are definitely looking at Affin Bank and we are more or less conclusive in our discussions with LTAT,” Johari added.

On on the state government’s decision to initially invest a 4.95% stake in Affin Bank, Johari said: “We just positioned ourselves in this bank – I feel it is doing quite well. We have also done our market intelligence research on what they do.”

Wan Razly said both Affin Bank and Sarawak state government shared many similar values and could find synergies to grow via such partnership.

Meanwhile, Johari said he looked forward to a partnership with Singapore soon to produce energy for the latter.

“We are still developing more renewable sources of energy and we are presently selling to Indonesia.

“Singapore needs green energy, and based on the spirit of Asean Power Grid, we feel that if Sarawak has an excess of energy, then why not sell to Singapore?

“In return, Singapore must also help us bring investments here. Singapore’s limitations are power (resources) and space. We have these, so we can complement each other through this partnership,” he added.

Johari said the plans have more or less been agreed during recent bilateral talks where Sarawak will supply power through an undersea cable that will be funded by Singapore.

“This will only likely be completed by the year 2032,” he said.

On another matter, Johari said savings were important to the state and that is why there is a forced savings plan in place today mandated by state laws through a sovereign wealth fund.

“I believe in saving money. We want to raise our reserves for future generations and we have set aside some RM8bil as seed capital and we will be contributing every year to this forced savings.

“Since it is mandated by law, whoever takes over the government cannot touch these state reserves unless it is truly necessary.

“The fund has started since January this year,” Johari said.

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