1MDB's cash crunch

1MDB's cash crunch

The recipe for the downfall of any company is taking on short-term debt to fulfil long-term projects. This is what symptomises 1Malaysia Development Bhd's (1MDB) ills, which needs some RM40bil in the next nine years to meet its debt obligations.

The increasing limelight that the fund has come under - not only from politicians but also from the man in the street - does not help its case either.

The tipping point for 1MDB to be a topic of discussion among the kampung folk is Lembaga Tabung Haji's (LTH) purchase of a parcel of land in the Tun Razak Exchange (TRX) that is to be developed by 1MDB for RM188.5million (S$69.9 million)

The momentum increased when a video of Umno deputy president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin telling members in a closed-door party function that the 1MDB issue had to be resolved now and that the board and management must be replaced emerged.

It is easy to fathom why the debt-laden 1MDB issue has to be resolved quickly. The fund has taken loans from banks and the capital market to purchase assets, including independent power producers, while failing to generate sufficient cashflow.

1MDB has cashflow problems, something that even Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah has admitted to. This has raised questions on the company's ability to meet its debt obligations of RM42bil.

Estimates based on publicly available data and current market prices have put its annual interest payment cost at RM1.4bil a year between 2016 and 2022.

What is even more worrying is the massive principal bullet payments of RM13bil in 2022, RM10.9bil in 2023 and RM1bil in 2024.

Altogether, 1MDB has debt and interest commitments of about RM14.5bil in 2022 and another RM11.7bil in 2023, assuming bullet repayments of the principal at the maturity of its loans.

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