Pontian sues 12 former directors

Dr Chen Man Hin

PETALING JAYA - Pontian United Plantations Bhd, now a unit of plantation conglomerate Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhd (FGV), has sued several of its former directors for multiple and material breaches of their fiduciary duties.

FGV said in its filing with Bursa Malaysia that Pontian had commenced legal proceedings against its former directors for breaches in contemplation of their exit from office, pursuant to the takeover by FGV, which was completed on Oct 31, 2013.

The 12 named are former DAP chairman Dr Chen Man Hin, Soo Lim Pang, Khoo Siong Kee, Soh Lim Chang, Soo Chong Veoy, Tan Kim Hai, Dr Wong Shiak Sun, Wong Loi, Khoo Lian Fue @ Khoo Bing Sing, Chew Ah Siong, Dr Christopher Chen Li Hsian, and Dr John Chen Li Tat.

"The plantiff is claiming RM29.14 million (S$11.2 million) and other relief that the court may deem fit in the circumstances," said FGV.

In mid-July last year, FGV offered to acquire all the shares in Pontian for RM1.2 billion or RM140 per share, translating into roughly RM75,000 per ha.

Prior to FGV's offer, Pontian was also sought after by TSH Resources Bhd which offered to buy all the shares it did not already own for RM90 per share, 55 per cent lower than the price offered by FGV.

Via its indirect unit Bina Jaya Sdn Bhd, TSH Resources collectively held 23.81 per cent in Pontian. However, the deal failed to go through and subsequently, TSH Resources gave its stake up to FGV.

When FGV announced the acquisition on July 18, 2013, it said the offer price of RM140 per Pontian share represented a price-earnings multiple of about 21.8 times based on the average earnings per share of Pontian of RM6.43 for the past two financial years ended Dec 31, 2011, and 2012.

There was speculation that FGV's interest in Pontian could be an entry point into the property development scene as Pontian has 1,626 acres in Kukup, which is said to be 15km from the Tuas second link in Johor.

That land would provide more lucrative returns if used for property development compared to plantation due to the ongoing activities in the Iskandar region.

However, FGV reiterated that property development isn't part of its long-term blue print.

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