Taiwan opposes Malaysia IOI’s $1.05 billion stake in Taipei 101 owner

TAIPEI - A planned US$790 million (S$1.05 billion) investment by Malaysia's IOI Properties for a 37 per cent stake in the owner of the Taipei 101 skyscraper ran into trouble after the Taiwan government said on Monday it was opposed to foreign control of the landmark.

IOI had said on Friday it was planning to buy the stake in the Taipei Financial Center for 2.74 billion ringgit (S$10.3 billion) from Ting Hsin International Group.

But Finance Minister Chang Sheng-ford told parliament on Monday that the centre should not be controlled by foreigners as it is a national landmark.

"Our evaluation shows that IOI is seeking management control rather than just a financial investment," he told lawmakers.

Taiwan's Investment Commission also chimed in on Monday, saying it will "give a strict review" of the deal. The investment regulatory body's comments came after four lawmakers urged over the weekend that the deal be rejected.

IOI's corporate communications department in Kuala Lumpur did not answer phone calls and did not immediately respond to an email requesting comments on Taiwan's stance.

Controlled by Malaysia's fifth-richest man, Lee Shin Cheng, according to Forbes, IOI had said the deal would give it an iconic building with stable rental income.

Ting Hsin, the parent company of Hong Kong-listed Tingyi Cayman Islands Holding Corp and maker of China's popular Master Kong instant noodles, has been under scrutiny after being hit by food scandals.

Taiwan prosecutors detained in Oct a key member of the family that controls Ting Hsin over the alleged sale of tainted cooking oil.

The Taiwan government also urged local banks not to give new loans to Ting Hsin, putting pressure on it to sell assets, including its stake in the Taipei Financial Center.